Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Tell-Tail Heart by Monica Shaughnessy | Blog Tour with Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

The Blurb

The untold story behind Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Philadelphia, 1842: Poe’s cat, Cattarina, becomes embroiled in a killer’s affairs when she finds a clue to the crime — a glass eye. But it’s only when her beloved “Eddy” takes an interest that she decides to hunt down the madman. Her dangerous expedition takes her from creepy Eastern State Penitentiary to Rittenhouse Square where she runs into a gang of feral cats intent on stopping her.

As the mystery pulls Cattarina deeper into trouble, even Eddy becomes the target of suspicion. Yet she cannot give up the chase. Both her reputation as a huntress and her friend’s happiness are at stake. For if she succeeds in catching the Glass Eye Killer, the missing pieces of Eddy’s unfinished story will fall into place, and the Poe household will once again experience peace.

The Tell-Tail Heart by Monica Shaughnessy
Series: Cattarina Mystery, #1
Genre: Historical Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Jumping Jackalope Press
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Paperback: 176 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0988562974

The Review

I read a really good book recently, y'all — The Tell-Tail Heart by Monica Shaughnessy. Let me tell you a little about it.

The Tell-Tail Heart is a delightfully whimsical look, as seen through the eyes of Cattarina the cat, into the world of Edgar Allan Poe and the creation of his macabre short story, The Tell-Tale Heart

The main characters are Eddy (aka Edgar Allan Poe, or E A Poe), his wife Sissy, his mother-in-law Muddy, and, of course, Cattarina. Cattarina is Eddy's muse, "...and she earns her title every day." She also narrates the book. 

The book begins and ends with this passage from Cattarina:
Eddy was never happier than when he was writing, and I was never happier than when Eddy was happy.
According to Maxie, the character of Cattarina is written very well, because Author Monica Shaughnessy is very purr-ceptive about the nature of cats. Here are some examples: 
[There are ten people on Cattarina's mental list of those allowed to touch her.] Others had tried; others had bled.
He'd taken note of me on the bar and approached with bared teeth, an odd greeting I'd grown accustomed to over the years. When one lives with humans, one must accommodate such eccentricities.
I longed to understand Eddy the way other humans did, but alas, could not. While I possessed a large vocabulary — a grandiose vocabulary in catterly circles — I owned neither the tongue nor the ear to communicate with friends as I would've liked. Yes, I knew the meaning of oft-repeated words: refreshment, writing, check-in-the-mail, damned story, illness, murder, madness, and so forth. But a dizzying number remained beyond reach, causing me to rely on nuance and posture to fill gaps in understanding — like now. Whatever he'd said to Mr Abbott pricked the man like a cocklebur to the paw.
Eddy flashed his teeth. Devoid of merriment, the gesture intuited nervousness. Cats, I might add, are incapable of such subterfuge.
Humans, on the whole, exercised little imagination when labeling their pets or themselves. In our area alone we have three Johns and four Marys, with no similarities among them save for gender. Dogs, too, are subject to this illogicality, as every other one answers to Fido, though most are too dumb to mind.  
As you can see, the "voice" of Cattarina is humorous and witty, which makes The Tell-Tail Heart a joy to read. We look forward to reading more books in the Cattarina Mystery series. We really enjoyed it, and bestow upon The Tell-Tail Heart Four Kitties! 

Four out of five kitties

Note:  I received a complimentary copy of The Tell-Tail Heart in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Follow the tour, to read other reviews, plus Author Interviews and Guest Posts!

The Guest Post

Cats and Cat Care During the Victorian Era

While writing my Cattarina Mysteries, I dug up research about cats, more specifically, cats in the Victorian era. Things were quite different in 1842! There is a much lengthier article here that gives great information when/if you have the time to read it. But for the moderately curious, I’ve condensed a few things I learned along the way.

Read on to find out just how good our contemporary kitties have it…
1. Many of the cat breeds we know and love today weren’t around in early Victorian America. Siamese and Tonkinese, for instance, didn’t arrive on U.S. soil until 1878 when President Rutherford B. Hayes received one as a gift. I feature two Maine Coon littermates in my second book, The Black Cats. But even though the breed was indigenous to Maine, it hadn’t “officially” received its name in 1842. So I improvised and called them Coon Cats (close to what they were originally nicknamed).
2. Cats were routinely fed horsemeat since it was one of the cheapest protein sources around. It’s no wonder, with all the horse-drawn carriages at that time. Yuck!
3. Catnip, while known for its effects on cats, wasn’t widely used as a stuffing for cat toys until the late nineteenth century.
4. Un-groomed cats were often put on display as curiosities as their long fur sometimes created wing-like shapes on their backs. Even Henry David Thoreau described a “winged cat” in 1842: "Some thought it was part flying squirrel or some other wild animal, which is not impossible, for, according to naturalists, prolific hybrids have been produced by the union of the marten and the domestic cat.”
5. Neutering was done without anesthetic. Need I say more? Ouch.
6. To rid a cat of fleas, Victorians put their cat in a bag of flea powder with only the cat’s neck sticking from the bag. The cat had to stay this way for twenty minutes. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take my chances with fleas over a mad cat in a bag. ☺
Times were tough for our feline friends in the mid to late 1800s. But our Victorian forebears didn’t love them any less. I hope you enjoyed this trip back in time. If you like historical fiction, then definitely give The Tell-Tail Heart a try. It’s a cozy mystery starring Edgar Allan Poe’s real-life cat companion, Cattarina. Between its pages, you’ll find a little history along the way.

The Author

About Monica Shaughnessy

Monica Shaughnessy has a flair for creating characters and plots larger than her home state of Texas. Most notably, she’s the author of the Cattarina Mysteries, a cozy mystery series starring Edgar Allan Poe’s real-life cat companion. Ms. Shaughnessy has nine books in print, including two young adult novels, a middle grade novel, a picture book, two cozy mystery novellas, and numerous short stories. Customers have praised her work time and again, calling it “unique and creative,” “fresh and original,” and “very well written.” If you’re looking for something outside the mainstream, you’ll find it in her prose. When she’s not slaying adverbs and tightening plots, she’s walking her rescue dogs, goofing around with her family, or going back to the grocery store for the hundredth time because she forgot milk.

The Giveaway

Monica will award an eBook copy of The Tell-Tail Heart 
to a randomly drawn winner (int.) via rafflecopter during the tour.
(a Jane Reads giveaway)

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