I read various poems and short stories written by Edgar Allen Poe as early as seventh grade, when my teachers started assigning them–and they were almost always assigned around Halloween. Listening to “The Telltale Heart” and reading “The Cask of Amontillado” out loud, I became fond of his work in a way I never did with other assigned readings. Heck, I have a fancy Barnes & Noble hardcover of Poe’s complete works that have silver-gilded page edges! That and a different-kind-of-fancy copy of Dracula are the only so-called classics I own. One of my favorite YA series is a contemporary retelling/spin on Poe’s collective works! (The Nevermore trilogy by Kelly Creagh, which you should go find copies of ASAP.)
All that is to say there was no question whether I’d be checking out an anthology full of Poe retellings. Of course His Hideous Heart landed on my TBR from the moment of its announcement.
The stories vary wildly in the genres they tap into, their settings, and their loyalty to the content of the original stories, but they all pair well with what they’re retelling–and if you want to compare them with ease or just enjoy the originals, Poe’s work make up the second half of the book. Emily Lloyd-Jones and Fran Wilde take “The Purloined Letter” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” respectively into technological futures in ingenious ways; Rin Chupeco’s “The Murders in Rue Apartelle, Boracay” is an especially memorable paranormal romp set in the Philippines, though the conversational style in which the story is told may be offputting. Hillary Monahan’s “Red” sticks out as the story to most closely emulate Poe’s writing style for readers who like their retellings to keep the style while telling a new story.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
The only work that doesn’t quite fit in anthology was Amanda Lovelace’s take on “The Raven” via blackout poetry. With so much blacked out, readers are left with a very short poem and nothing else. If you do an image search for blackout poetry, you’ll find some incredible work that combines poetry with illustration to be something visually interesting and memorable. “The Raven (Remix)” fails to make the most of its verbal/visual medium and just doesn’t impress.
If you’re a Poe fan like me, This Hideous Heart is sure to hit that eerie, spooky spot in your soul. Also I mean it, go look up Kelly Creagh’s Nevermore trilogy for some more Poe-related YA goodness published in the last decade!