Winning Amazon's Breakthrough Novel of the Year in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror category (Amazon clearly wants to avoid handing out too many of these puppies and so crunches together the three disparate genres) must have been a huge thing for a debut author, creating the type of hype and interest she could otherwise have only dreamed about. The other edge of that sword, however, is it also raises expectations aplenty. And for me, Poe does not meet those expectations.
It all starts well enough. Fenn establishes her first-person narrator, Dimitri, as a likeable slacker who has already had his fair share of difficulties to deal with. Things get rolling quickly as he gets sent to cover a seance at a local spook-house and from there things go (almost literally) to hell for him. He meets and falls in love with a local girl, is pronounced dead after a run in with a spirit, then recovers and has to start piecing together various mysterious threads - some involving his family's history, others relating to his girlfriend and the secrets she is hiding.
Unfortunately, the pacing of the novel falls apart in the middle section, with Dimitri spending too much time being nonchalant about all these ghostly things happening to him, failing to progress with finding answers as to why he is being haunted, and trying to win over the girl - mostly by being a liar liar, pants on fire. It becomes quite ridiculous the amount of times he skirts around a question, offers a half-truth to the projected love of his life, or flat out omits truths that could have a real impact on her safety. About the tenth time it happened, I ceased caring about Dimitri, and as such, the book lost a great deal of its lustre for me.
I persevered, however, and was rewarded with an ending that wasn't much of an ending at all. (Heading into spoiler territory here, so stay away if you plan to read this one ...) Dimitri ignores all warnings to the contrary and goes up against the possessed bad guy, only to lose, watch him get away and then have to deal with a mortally wounded girlfriend. And that's it! Well, to be fair, the mortally wounded girlfriend is addressed, but the big bad isn't; he just disappears into the ether, and Dimitri pauses to comment that "my heart is floating peacefully in my chest, lofty as a child's balloon". WTF? The guy that tried to kill you and your girlfriend is still free as a bird and you're kicking back, with your feet up, not at all fretting?!
So, upon reflection, this one didn't pass muster. It's an okay read that starts well, but features a protagonist who is too flawed to ever get truly behind. From a technical standpoint, Fenn can certainly write, however, so I hope her next book improves her character development and resolution plotting.
2.5 Nonchalant Reactions to Anything Supernatural for Poe.