The Portable Edgar Allen Poe

October 31, 2008
Halloween is a great holiday because diehard horror lovers and trick or treaters alike can come out and participate in the celebration of all things creepy and grotesque.
People know me as the horror junkie, so I get asked for lots of book and movie recommendations. Sure I can watch all the horror flicks I want, it's never really a problem finding a movie that'll scare the sense out of me, but finding a book to do the same job can be a bit of a challenge. The whole horror genre is like a literary roller coaster and can be very addictive. Riding roller coasters and reading scary stories are both great ways to get an adrenalin rush. You never know where a good writer will take you.

The Portable Edgar Allen Poe has something in it for everyone. This collection, edited by J. Gerald Kennedy, has his most famous stories and poems. It also has notes, letters and essays that explain a lot more about who he was. My favorite thing about his stories is that they don't become quaint or old fashioned over time. His stories continue to terrorize each generation that reads them even though they are almost two hundred years old. Even a modern horror lover like myself finds their heart pounding when I read these stories.

At first reading this book was like a chore, because I wasn't used to his archaic style of writing. But once I really started getting used to his word choices, it was like learning a new language. I was transported into the mind of the 17th century narrator, where I could feel, think, smell, taste, and see everything they were experiencing.

The scariest thing about this book is that you're never sure what's happening or about to happen:
-Why does the narrator want revenge in the Cask of Amontillado?
-What did the criminal do to be condemned to death in the Pit and the Pendulum?
-What makes the killer hear his victim's heart in the Telltale heart?

The characters in a book like Twilight are laid out in great detail for the reader, so you understand their choices and situations. Edgar Allen Poe doesn't explain how the characters get into their situations and only hints at their motivations. These stories are kind of like mysteries. He gives just a few clues that make you want to solve the unanswered questions. This pulls you more into the story and more into the experience of the storyteller. It's not always a comfortable place to be, but if you like roller coasters, you will find an entire amusement park in this collection, with rides that fit every mood.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a thrill. 5 stars all the way!

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