Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Review - The Cask of Amontillado

The Cask of Amontillado
by Edgar Allan Poe
Date: 1846
Publisher: Feedbooks
Reading level: A
Book type: short story
Pages: 10
Format: e-book
Source: http://www.feedbooks.com/

"The Cask of Amontillado" (sometimes spelled "The Casque of Amontillado") is a short story, written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey's Lady's Book.

The story is set in a nameless Italian city in an unspecified year (possibly sometime during the eighteenth century) and concerns the deadly revenge taken by the narrator on a friend who he claims has insulted him. Like several of Poe's stories, and in keeping with the 19th-century fascination with the subject, the narrative revolves around a person being buried alive – in this case, by immurement.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I haven't read a lot of Poe's works. I think we read "The Tell-Tale Heart" in high school at some point, and I read "The Raven" a few years back. "The Cask of Amontillado" is a short story that I'd heard of, but never read. It was short, so I thought I'd give it a try.

It's creepy, not least because it's told from the first-person point of view of a murderer. Montresor is likely a psychopath, as he seems to get a chilling amount of satisfaction from listening to the suffering of his victim, Fortunato. And there's no real reason for burying the poor guy behind a wall; all we get for motive is something about a vague insult. (Can you imagine if Montresor lived in the era of the Internet? He'd never have enough hours in the day to plot against and kill all the people who "wronged" him!)

Maybe this seemed scarier to 19th-century audiences. Perhaps we're a bit more desensitized to murder because we hear about so many graphic ones in our media. Getting walled up in a crypt is psychologically horrifying, probably because of the amount of time it would take for the victim to die... all while knowing they're about to. Still, I can think of worse ways to go.

The prose is kind of verbose in spots, and isn't all that easy to read. But the story itself moves along at a good pace, and we get a decent idea of what kind of characters we're dealing with. I can't say I was blown away by this one, but I always like to read well-known classics, if only so I can understand the cultural references made by other works.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall Rating: 2.71 out of 5 ladybugs


  1. Love Poe. You should check out Dr. Elliot Engle's videos about him and other classic authors. I just finished reading A Raven's Tale by Cat Winters, which imagines EAP as an angsty teen dealing with his muse. Excellent! Due in April.

    1. Thanks for the rec! I enjoyed In the Shadow of Blackbirds by the same author, so I might like A Raven's Tale, too!