The second of my four Little Black Classics this is the first Poe I’ve read my only previous exposure to his work being the poem The Raven and that because of The Simpsons.
I must say I rather enjoyed this book which collects three of his short stories and justifies his reputation as a master of the Gothic and macabre. The pick of the bunch is the story that gives this collection it’s name.
Told from the perspective of a killer it details how his guilt and already shaky state of mind drives him to breaking point. It’s a deliciously dark affair with Poe perfectly catching the insanity of the narrator, despite his protestations to the contrary. It’s a quick piece and the tension builds nicely, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Next up was “The Fall of the House of Usher”, which I found the weakest. It’s atmospheric and gloomy, but the plot is easy to see coming and at the start it dawdles. The final story is “The Cask of Amontillado” which again sees Poe writing through the eyes of a killer as our narrator gets revenge on someone who insulted him. The story which sees a drunken, prideful quarry lured into a trap because of his greed for wine and ego is an edgy, dark affair which I rather liked.
Poe’s writing is old fashioned but there’s a real revelry in the dark and macabre tales he weaves and their nastiness is utterly compelling. I would definitely check out more of his work based on this.
Verdict: Gloriously Gothic in tone Poe is a master of building tension and an air of creepiness. “House of Usher” didn’t work for me, but as Meat Loaf said, two out of three ain’t bad. 7/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.