I knew that this book sounded interesting to me... and then I realized it was in a play format and I was immediately in love!

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery by Mary Amato. Thanks so much to Thomas Allen for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.

This book follows a cast of Dead characters, including the newly deceased Lacy, who has no memory of how she died and struggles to comprehend the cemetery that is to be her new 'home.' She first meets Sam, a shy Civil War soldier who died not long after he was forced to enlist by his mother, Mrs. Steele, who is the unofficial authority figure of the cemetery. Sam tries to help Lacy navigate this new stage in her life while dealing with his own insecurities, and Lacy has to come to terms with her death and its circumstances.

First of all, there is just something about an afterworld-type story that gets me every time. I love the idea of these historical figures 'coming alive' at night and 'living' their new lives. Amato includes a bunch of really interesting historical characters in the book, not just the famous Edgar Allan Poe and family, but also women who felt restricted in their social norms, men who couldn't accept their gender but had to because of the time period. It was a really fun way to learn a little about history without weighing down the story.

I absolutely loved how this story was written as a play. I love reading plays and this aspect made me love this book even more. It was slightly differently structured than what I am used to with reading other plays, but that may just have been a writer's choice than a formatting issue. Some of the stage directions were more of aside commentary from the omniscient narrator/playwright and less actual stage directions but I didn't really mind.

One of the things I love about theatre and plays, in general, is that they are so brilliantly able to portray real life. While this was not a realistic play in the sense that it was about dead people, it was realistic in the sense that it was able to address real-life issues. Each of the characters has something to get off their chest, some regret from life that they are holding onto and in a really cathartic scene, Lacy helps them release this burden.

There wasn't as much Poe in this as one would expect in a book set in the cemetery where he is buried, so if you are here for Poe and Poe alone, you might be disappointed. But there is some non-Poe poetry and the Raven is a regular character so that should satisfy any passing yearnings for the poet.

Overall, I don't think that this book will necessarily be for everyone because it has its quirks, but for me, it was just what I didn't know I was looking for!