I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler, Kendare Blake, Rin Chupeco, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Stephanie Kuehn, Amanda Lovelace, Marieke Nijkamp, Emily Lloyd-Jones, Hillary Monahan, Caleb Roehrig, Fran Wilde
Genres: Young Adult, Retelling
Published by Macmillan on September 10, 2019
Also by this author: Behind the Scenes, Under the Lights, Just Visiting, Last Will and Testament, Right of First Refusal, Out On Good Behavior, Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love, This Is Where It Ends, The Fell of Dark
Format: eARC (480 pages) • Source: Publisher
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Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.
Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morge”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).
I can’t lie: unlike most anthologies I request or read, I don’t have a lot of experience with this “topic.” I like to read retellings in general and have been so curious about this compilation of Edgar Allen Poe reimaginings since Dahlia first spoke about it on Twitter years ago. I thought, why not give it a shot? I saw that the original stories by Poe were in the back of the book in case I wanted to read those too, but I figured I’d read quick synopses online for each instead. I also decided to break this up over the course of October to (a) not pressure myself too much and (b) break up the spooky across the whole month! With there being 13 stories, I needed to complete a story every 2-3 days to finish by the end of the month. Therefore, I decided to read one story approximately every other weekday and move things around if I knew I had plans that wouldn’t allow for much reading. I ended up really liking the vast majority of these though, which led to a bit quicker of a read time than I expected!
As usual, here are mini reviews for each story in the anthology and the overall rating (above) is an average of all the stories’ ratings.
She Rode a Horse of Fire by Kendare Blake | Inspired by: Metzengerstein
This was nice and spooky! I was invested and curious without knowing as much about the original tale. I think I was a bit confused though because actually a lot happens in this one for such a short story? There was some kind of family drama, a fire, death, some paranormal stuff, a second love interest… I don’t think I even fully understood who the narrator was… But for some reason I just enjoyed the creepiness enough to give it four stars. 😉
It’s Carnival! by Tiffany D. Jackson | Inspired by: The Cask of Amontillado
Whew, this one fucked me up! The original story is a doozy, where the guy just tricks an annoying person into being basically buried alive. Aaand that’s exactly what happened here. This one definitely gave me the creeps and was incredibly true to the original story. I liked the twist where this all occurred during a Jamaican Carnival event, so that was a great additional element/setting.
Night-Tide by Tessa Gratton | Inspired by: Annabelle Lee
I LOVED this. This story is more sad than creepy, for sure. It’s a f/f retelling of the story and made it so much more interesting! Instead of just a sad hetero love story like the original, the main character is unfortunately led to believe that her “unnatural” feelings for Annabelle led to her death. Just hit really hard and was such a great way to tell this story in a new way.
The Glittering Death by Caleb Roehrig | Inspired by: The Pit and the Pendulum
I’ve been so curious to read something by this author so this was a great way to do it finally! I love that this was more of a creepy murder mystery/serial killer kind of thing. I know he writes books like that in general so it seems like a wonderful representation of what his full-length novels could be like. When I read the summary of the original Poe story, I was a bit underwhelmed; it sounded kind of boring. I think Roehrig did a wonderful job of making it more intriguing. (It was nice to know the ending ahead of time too!)
A Drop of Stolen Ink by Emily Lloyd-Jones | Inspired by: The Purloined Letter
Despite loving most of the stories so far, this was a breath of fresh air due to a genre shift to something a bit more futuristic. I loved the concept and it was well-executed. It sort of felt like a retelling but also was more like a new story. The author was clever to update the letter aspect from the original story to a futuristic e-ink tattoo ID. There was a touch of f/f representation here as well, which was nice.
Happy Days, Sweetheart by Stephanie Kuehn | Inspired by: The Tell-Tale Heart
Like most people, this is the Poe story I am most familiar with. I even saw a play of it back in middle school, which is weird. And like many other authors in this anthology, I was curious to read a book/story by Stephanie Kuehn and try her out! I wasn’t expecting for this retelling to be about a student body presidential campaign so the beginning was a bit jarring. I loved that this was a genderbent version though and there were obvious parallels to and discussions about how our society treats women in positions of power (or their lack of ability to get there). A lot of deeper messages in this one! Well-done. Amazing ending!
The Raven (Remix) by Amanda Lovelace | Inspired by: The Raven
This is the other Poe story I’m most familiar with, of course. Having a poem mixed in with all of the short stories was a refreshing change, too. The formatting in the egalley didn’t translate over, so the blackout poem that this is supposed to be really just appeared like the normal poem. I had to find a copy to read the real version. Still, didn’t enjoy or understand it that much. Very meh on this one but I’m giving it some stars for creativity.
Changeling by Marieke Nijkamp | Inspired by: Hop-Frog
While the formatting for this one confused me quite a bit, I think I understood the overall message? Nijkamp followed the idea of the original story (a character with dwarfism getting revenge and escaping with a close friend/lover? not sure) and updated it to include fae, a disabled MC, and a queer love story. The format changed perspectives between the two (or more – I genuinely couldn’t tell) characters, but I never knew whose perspective I was reading from.
The Oval Filter by Lamar Giles | Inspired by: The Oval Portrait
This was a good one! It follows a football player, Tariq, who suddenly sees pictures on his deceased girlfriend’s Instagram account, which inevitably leads him to some information. I like how he sort of flipped the story from the original and turned it into somewhat of a mystery too. I do wish there was a little more at the end when we get some answers, because it just felt slightly unfinished.
Red by Hillary Monahan | Inspired by: The Masque of the Red Death
I don’t enjoy rating books this low when it’s mostly because I personally didn’t understand the story. I actually have seen similar ratings though, so maybe it wasn’t just me! I enjoyed the writing style and the aesthetic of the story, but it fell flat by the end from lack of comprehension. I could definitely see the connections (especially with the colors) to the original story.
Lygia by Dahlia Adler | Inspired by: Ligeia
I’m a big fan of Dahlia Alder and obviously she edited this book, so I was eager to get to her story. It did not disappoint! This was a really solid story that has gotten better in my mind over time as well. Just creepy enough and wonderfully connected to the original story, from what I understand. (After reading the summary for the original story, I didn’t fully get it, but this retelling was so well-done that I understand.) I still found myself slightly confused by the ending but not enough to detract from my feelings.
The Fall of the Bank of Usher by Fran Wilde | Inspired by: The Fall of the House of Usher
I could obviously see the vague connection to the original story (the bones of it were there) but it was kind of meh. I liked the sibling relationship and futuristic sort of take on this, but I don’t have much to say. This felt really long too for some reason.
The Murders in Rue Apartelle, Boracay by Rin Chupeco | Inspired by: The Murders in the Rue Morgue
This was interesting! I loved that Chupeco mixed in some fantastical elements (fairies, shape-shifters, mermaids, etc.) into this story. The ending was not like the original story, so it was a refreshing (non-obvious) change
Overall, this was such a solid group of stories! There are some under 3 stars but they’re mostly 3 stars or above. I would say that for a group of stories based around something I’m not overly familiar with, these were so well-done and really worked for me! Perfect level of spookiness for October. I believe the overall rating from the 13 stories is 3.7 stars, but I’m rounding up to 4 stars total – I just loved so many of these!