The Raven: Tales and Poems

This anthology (352 pages) was published in October of 2013 by Penguin Horror. The book takes you to the deranged imagination of Poe. Melissa read The Raven and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

The Raven

Tales and Poems

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems are enriched with detail and atmosphere that give them a strong sense of place. Sure, most of those places are the destinations of nightmares, but really, doesn’t that make them sort of irresistible?

This collection of Poe’s works was edited by filmmaker and horror aficionado Guillermo del Toro, and it includes all of the iconic tales: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Mask of the Red Death, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado, The Black Cat, and The Fall of the House of Usher, as well as eerie and desperately melancholy poems, including Annabel Lee, The Raven, and Lenore.

The Fall of the House of Usher is one of our favorites because the house itself is the hero — or, more accurately — the villain of the story.

The very name the ‘House of Usher’ is both a reference to the passage of the family line from sire to son and the name of the the foreboding mansion. From the first page of Poe’s masterful Gothic tale, it’s clear that the house is a character to be reckoned with: ‘I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.’

The plot is simple: An unnamed, first-person narrator visits his lifelong friend Roderick Usher and finds him a diminished, haunted man. The narrator also encounters Roddy’s twin sister — the ethereal lady Madeline — drifting about in the background.

Our narrator frequently describes his sense of oppression, and we feel it, too, as the house and family line reach their inexorable demise.

As our guide in the story incessantly describes his sense of oppression, we readers feel it, too. There’s almost a sense of relief — or, at least, of inevitability — as the house and family line reach their inexorable demise.

Dark draperies hung upon the walls. The general furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered. Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene. I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow. An air of stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom hung over and pervaded all. — Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’

keep reading

From classics 'Jane Eyre' and 'Northanger Abbey' to Agatha Christie and Tana French, the creaky halls and haunted histories of manor houses are the ideal backdrop for secrets, ghosts, betrayal, and romance.

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Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

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