I got this book at my college’s book sale for $1.00. This edition was published by Dover and contains a handful of Poe’s best-loved short stories. I will be writing a short review of each one individually.
- Ligeia: In this story, the unnamed narrator’s first wife, Ligeia, dies. In life, Ligeia was beautiful, smart, and of good character. Though the narrator remarries, he cannot stop thinking of his first wife. Soon, his second wife falls ill. While sick, she complains about hearing and seeing things that no one else can. I really enjoyed this story. It was a little predictable, but I still liked it a lot.
- The Fall of the House of Usher: An unnamed narrator goes to visit a childhood friend of his who is suffering from a mysterious illness. Upon arrival, the narrator tries to help his friend cope with his sickness, and learns that his friend’s sister is afflicted by the same ailment. Eventually, the sister dies and the two men bury her inside the walls of the house. However, she doesn’t remain there for long. I enjoyed this story as well. I actually had to read it for one of my college classes and write a analysis of it.
- The Murders in the Rue Morgue: This story was about a mother and a daughter who had been brutally murdered. The police were confused because of the intense violence of the crimes and the apparent lack of motivated suspects. Upon further investigation, it appeared that the culprit was less than human. This story picked up a lot at the end, but the beginning was intensely boring.
- The Masque of the Red Death: This story follows a prince who is desperate to avoid a terrible plague known as the Red Death. While he is hiding out, he throws a lavish masquerade ball. However, one of the guests dresses up as a victim of the Red Death. It does not end well when the prince decides to confront this particular visitor. This story was interesting. I liked it.
- The Pit and the Pendulum: A man has fallen victim to the Spanish Inquisition and is sentenced to death. At first, he thinks he’s been buried alive, but soon discovers that he’s in a cell. Though he’s intensely afraid and suffers many tribulations, he eventually escapes when the French army captures the place he’s imprisoned. This story was interesting because of the vivid sensory descriptions, but is somewhat historically inaccurate.
- The Tell-Tale Heart: This story follows a man who murders his roommate and dismembers his body, hiding the parts all around the house. He’s confident he’ll get away with it, though police come to search the place. All is going well, until the heart starts beating underneath the floorboards. I liked this story a lot. It was really creepy and really well-written.
- The Gold-Bug: After being bitten by a golden bug, a man goes on a quest with his friend and his slave. He has deciphered an old code, and the group soon discovers a buried treasure. However, the man’s slave and his friend both fear for his sanity. This was interesting story, but it was really racist. It was written in the 1840’s, so that’s to be expected of the time period, but still.
- The Black Cat: In this story, a man and his wife get married and she gets him a lot of pets because he is fond of animals. His favorite is the black cat, which follows him everywhere. However, he soon becomes an alcoholic and begins abusing the animals and his wife. He eventually gouges out the cat’s eye and hangs it, after which their house burns down. Soon, a new cat follows him home and his wife adores it. When he tries to kill it, his wife stops him and he kills her instead. However, the cat ensures he will be brought to justice. I liked this story because the guy got what he deserved, but I was also really horrified by its cruelty to animals.
- The Cask of Amontillado: This story follows around a man who lures his friend into his wine cellar on the pretense of identifying a rare wine. However, the man only buries his friend alive. This story was okay. It was really short and there wasn’t much build-up.
I would recommend this book to fans of horror or Gothic literature, or who are fans of Poe.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments!