Book #60

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Stories about murder, mystery and madness, portraying the author's feverish imagination at its creative height.

As someone with a good few copies of Poe on her bookshelf, I'm embarrassed to say this is my first foray into the master of macabre. This is a collection of three of Poe's short stories, and each of them was as creepy as the next; I loved every single word.

A Tell-Tale Heart is one of Poe's most famous short stories. Its terror comes not from the act of the narrator (the killing of an old man), but from the narration itself. Speaking as though to a policeman, or doctor, he tries to prove his sanity by detailing the calm and collected way in which he planned the murder, and the detached manner in which he carried out the act. His justification for this alone reeks of madness; the old man had an evil eye - very much like a vulture's - which caused our narrator great unease. The way this was written was utterly delectable; frightening, unsettling, and most of all, seeped in tension.

The Fall of the House of Usher immediately introduced us to a dark and gloomy house in the middle of nowhere, in true gothic style. He visits an old friend who has come down with an affliction, and soon comes to discover the family and the house, are far more disturbing than he had imagined them to be. I loved this for all of the gothic elements employed; the house, the darkness, the strange sounds, and the ultimate ending. A true terror.

Finally, and quite unfashionably (as is my way), I found The Cask of Amontillado to be my favourite. No madness, no gothic supernatural, just pure human evil. Simply a tale of revenge, Poe kept the climax quite veiled until the final moments. Deliciously horrid.

This is an excellent collection, showcasing Poe's varied styles and approaches to terror. A great starting place for Poe, but also a terrific quick read if you want to get back into the macabre. Wonderful.