Dark, diverse, feminist, eerie, memorable, and twisted—welcome to the new generation of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s a lot of fun in here.
In His Hideous Heart, editor Dahlia Adler has compiled a truly impressive shortlist of some of Poe’s most famous tales, reimagined for a 2019 audience. I couldn’t believe how nuanced and imaginative these retellings were, and how eerily similar they felt to their original inspirations. Having the original Poe tales in the back of the collection was such a good call—I actually read each tale in tandem, from new reimagining to old inspiration to compare and contrast each entry.
To keep this review shorter than its original anthology, here are my quick thoughts and ratings on each of the 13 tales:
She Rode a Horse of Fire (Metzengerstein) by Kendare Blake
The perfect opener to this anthology, this historically-minded tale about a manor house experiencing the entrancement and death of its lord was the PERFECT amount of spooky.
It’s Carnival! (The Cask of Amontillado) by Tiffany D. Jackson
A tale twisted to a diverse feminist revenge story, this entry watches the narrator as she exacts a clinical end to the man who mocked her and her family for not being Jamacian enough with deadly results in modern-day New Orleans.
Night-Tide (Annabelle Lee) by Tessa Gratton
Tied as my favorite, this prose retelling of the poem follows the summer seaside hypnotic reality of the narrator as she questions whether her illicit love for Annabelle Lee was the cause of Annabelle’s death in this historic New England tale perfect for fans of f/f star-crossed lovers.
The Glittering Death (The Pit and the Pendulum) by Caleb Roehrig
A modern tale of a serial killer who targets women, and the girl who finds herself a live captive in need of escape—extremely gritty, and another parable on modern-day feminism.
A Drop of Stolen Ink (The Purloined Letter) by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Edgar Allan Poe meets the future in a world where information is coded in biometric tattoos and one girl is sent to uncover a CEO’s treachery in the high-stakes world of the tattoo-data black market.
Happy Days, Sweetheart (The Tell-Tale Heart) by Stephanie Kuehn
A high-achieving diverse female student always comes in second to the mediocrity of her white male competitor at their private school--so she decides to balance the scales of justice and eliminate him in this gruesome tale of cold revenge.
The Raven (Remix) by Amanda Lovelace
The poem The Raven, blacked out to create a new narrative, remained cool in concept by struggled to shine in between such impressive prose entries.
Changeling (Hop-Frog) by Marieke Nijkamp
Set in 1832, this tale of the Fae is reimagined as a vigilante group of former disabled and neglected abused children who receive a glorious second chance at a happy life or a vengeful one in a dark tale of one girl questing to retrieve those who deserve more than what the mortal world can give them by transporting them to the kingdom of the Fae and punishing their perpetrators.
The Oval Filter (The Oval Portrait) by Lamar Giles
A college football star’s dead girlfriend shows up in his Instagram feed trapped in an oval filter that appears to be suffocating her behind the screen—can Tariq solve the mystery behind her appearance before it drives him mad?
Red (The Masque of the Red Death) by Hillary Monahan
My least favorite in the collection, this tale should be read for the aesthetic and not for the narrative as it is essentially a color-coded picture show with a dark conclusion.
Lygia (Ligeia) by Dahlia Adler
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
A f/f tale of loss and mourning gone too far, the narrator mourns her dead girlfriend, Lygia, and tries to remake her presence in her new girlfriend with dark results.
The Fall of the Bank of Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher) by Fran Wilde
Tied as my favorite, this masterful blend of futuristic nanotech with old-school English manor joins the heist trope in this tale of (potentially) gender-fluid twins who take the job of hacking the unhackable Bank of Usher in an old manor house guarded by semi-sentient computerized mold. (I hear you saying “wtf”—just read it. It’s amazing.)
The Murders in Rue Apartelle, Boracay (The Murders in the Rue Morgue) by Rin Chupeco
Confusing and at times overly complicated given its length, this tale was a modern blend of magical realism in the Philippines told by the female narrator as she recounts the tale of her mysterious rich boyfriend who may or may not be too knowledgeable about a murder case.
Original notes: Ahhhh! So thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for His Hideous Heart. Stay tuned for my review on September 5! This is one of my most anticipated releases for 2019 so I am HYPED.
Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.