Book Review: His Hideous Heart

his hideous heartHis Hideous Heart
Edited by Dahlia Adler
Young Adult / Retellings / Short Stories / Horror
468 pages
Published September 2019

The first of my spooky reads this month, His Hideous Heart is a collection of thirteen redone tales from Edgar Allan Poe. The timing for this review is perfect, because today is also the International Poe Festival here in Baltimore! I am heading down to the festival today, and should have photos to post tomorrow!

This book was incredibly well done – one of my favorite parts about it is the inclusion of the original versions of the eleven stories and two poems, in the second part of the book. A few of the tales chosen were ones I had never heard of – I’m much more familiar with Poe’s poetry than his prose. So having the originals to read made the experience much richer.

I think my favorite was the retelling of Annabel Lee, one of my favorite poems. Tessa Gratton turned it into a story of two young lesbians and called it Night-Tide, and it beautifully captures the yearning and loss from the poem. A Drop of Stolen Ink, inspired by The Purloined Letter, was another fantastic, futuristic piece. They are all fantastic pieces, though, who am I kidding? I think my least favorite was actually the one built from The Raven – it’s the original poem, but with most of it blacked out so the un-redacted words form a new poem. It’s novel, but just not as good as the rest, in my opinion.

Like much of young adult lit recently, the diversity was on point; The Murders in the Rue Apartelle, Boracay includes a trans character, and several of the tales star queer people. The viewpoint character in Happy Days, Sweetheart (The Tell-Tale Heart) is black and Mexican.

Overall, this is a beautifully done modern take on some of Poe’s best tales, and I definitely want to buy a copy for my own shelves. I actually need to re-buy a book of Poe’s tales – somehow, though my husband and I each had a copy when we married, somewhere through our moves we’ve lost both copies! I’ll have to keep an eye out today at the festival, though I think what I really want is one of Barnes & Noble’s pretty collector’s editions.

From the cover of His Hideous Heart:

Edgar Allan Poe may be 170 years beyond this world, but the themes of his terrifying works live on in modern fiction for young adults. And with this collection, a host of some of today’s most beloved authors come together to reimagine Poe’s most terrifying, thrilling tales in new and unexpected ways.

Whether Poe’s stories are already familiar or discovered here for the first time, readers will revel in the terrors and thrills of his classic tales and how they’ve been brought to life in thirteen utterly unforgettable ways.

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