BLOG TOUR: Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery
Pub date: Sep. 1, 2018 from Carolrhoda Lab (an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group) Available in Canada through Thomas Allen & Son
Today, I’m finishing off the Canadian blog tour for Mary Amato‘s YA book, Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery!
When Lacy wakes up dead in Westminster Cemetery, final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, she’s confused. It’s the job of Sam, a young soldier who died in 1865, to teach her the rules of the afterlife and to warn her about Suppression—a punishment worse than death.Lacy desperately wants to leave the cemetery and find out how she died, but every soul is obligated to perform a job. Given the task of providing entertainment, Lacy proposes an open mic, which becomes a chance for the cemetery’s residents to express themselves. But Lacy is in for another shock when surprising and long-buried truths begin to emerge.
The winner will receive 1 hard cover copy of Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery by Mary Amato.
Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
Giveaway ends on Thursday Oct. 4th at 11:59 pm EST
Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email & will have 48 hours to claim their prize
Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s and YA book author, songwriter, and poet who lives in Maryland. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, and produced onstage. You can learn more about her writing HERE and her music HERE!
~ REVIEW ~
I gave my copy of Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery a big hug after reading it. This is a tale with a lot of heart. It’s the best sort of story about the dead–one that reminds readers to forgive the past and embrace life. A macabre atmosphere hangs over the story, as you might expect from a tale influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, but Amato crafts an uplifting read that provides more gentle thrills than chills.
For many prospective readers, the hook will surely be the promise of seeing Edgar Allan Poe as a character. While Poe’s eventual appearance is satisfying, by the time he shows up, I was fully invested in Lacy, Sam, and the other ghostly characters.
Lacy–a present-day teenage poet illegally buried in the old cemetery–struggles to follow the graveyard protocols while trying to piece together the events of her own death. Her friendship and romance with Sam, a shy but well-meaning civil war soldier, is tenderly portrayed. Amato also builds our sympathy for the supporting characters, many of whom never lived their lives to the fullest and find themselves haunting the graveyard in an equally unfulfilling afterlife. Lacy’s arrival–and the power of poetry she releases in the residents–sets into action a cathartic series of revelations that eventually help the ghosts find peace.
It’s important to note that Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery is not exactly a novel. In keeping with the idea of an Open Mic, the story is written as a play script, albeit one that reads like prose, with insights into characters’ thoughts and feelings. There are also poems and lyrics sprinkled throughout, and a few quirky “Dear Reader” addresses.
This combination didn’t throw me at all. When an experimental form reinforces the themes of the content, I’m all for it! In this case, the blend of theatre and prose transcends what each form could have provided individually. This mirrors how Lacy, Sam, and the other ghostly characters strive to transcend their own past failings and the restrictive rules of the aptly named graveyard guardian, Mrs. Steele.
Open Mic Night is a wonderful autumn read; a book of nighttime wanderings and black cats, but also reflection, friendship, and the promise of new beginnings that arise from endings.
There’s humor too though, particularly from the jesting Raven that lives on Poe’s monument. In the spirit of Open Mic humor, all the bloggers on tour are including their favourite stand-up sketch. I turned to this gem from another great jester of sorts, Stephen Fry, who shares a spooky tale of his own!
Check out Twitter for links to the other reviews on the Open Mic Night blog tour!
Stay tuned for more reviews and interviews from Storythreads this autumn! From folk tales to Halloween-inspired reads, I’ll be delving into all sorts of books worth ‘fall’-ing for!
Thank you to Thomas Allen & Son for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.