Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review - Poe: Stories and Poems (DNF)

Poe: Stories and Poems
by Edgar Allan Poe & Gareth Hinds
Date: 2017
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: YA
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 120
Format: paperback
Source: library

In a thrilling adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's best-known works, acclaimed artist-adapter Gareth Hinds translates Poe's dark genius into graphic-novel format.

It is true that I am nervous. But why will you say that I am mad?

In -The Cask of Amontillado, - a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In -The Masque of the Red Death, - a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can't see his tormentors in -The Pit and the Pendulum, - and in -The Tell-Tale Heart, - a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems -- -The Raven, - -The Bells, - and Poe's poignant elegy to lost love, -Annabel Lee.- The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

DNF @ 53%

When you just can't bring yourself to pick up a book again, you know it's time to call it quits.

This is not my first encounter with Poe. I read "The Cask of Amontillado" earlier this year. I've read "The Raven". And I think we might've explored "The Tell-Tale Heart" in a high school drama class many years ago. This volume collects many of the writer's most famous works and gives them a graphic novel treatment. Does it work? Well... no. Not really.

Maybe if I hadn't read some of these on their own beforehand, I might've been more impressed. The problem I have is that what my mind can come up with while reading is much scarier than what's spelled out in the illustrations. I was underwhelmed by "The Masque of the Red Death", even though it started off with an interesting premise. "The Pit and the Pendulum" took me from suspense to eye rolls. "Annabel Lee" was a complete waste of time. But "The Cask of Amontillado" was what really clinched it for me. It's a lot less scary to see someone's speech bubbles full of "hahahaha!" than it is to read that someone was laughing maniacally. The graphic novel format turned what is a horrifying story with a terrifyingly sadistic main character into something I couldn't even take seriously.

I didn't even get to "The Raven", but I really don't think there's much the author/illustrator could've done with it to improve upon the original. Read Poe's version (or watch the surprisingly amusing version The Simpsons did of it in one of their annual Halloween specials).

As for the rest, I don't feel like I'm missing much. Some things are better left to the imagination. Trying to illustrate horror stories runs the risk of diluting the terror... which is exactly what happened here.

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