Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Descent into the Maelstrom” as Want to Read:
A Descent into the Maelstrom
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Descent into the Maelstrom

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  2,229 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Inspired by the Moskstraumen, which is real, the story is couched as a story within a story, a tale told at the summit of a mountain climb. The horrific tale is laid out by an old man who reveals that he only appears old - "You suppose me a very old man," he says, "but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my ...more
Paperback, 36 pages
Published February 2nd 2004 by BookSurge Classics (first published 1841)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Descent into the Maelstrom, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Descent into the Maelstrom

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,229 ratings  ·  150 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Descent into the Maelstrom
Muhtasin Oyshik
A Descent into the Maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe

This is a short story about a man who tells how he survived a shipwreck and a whirlpool. It's a tale of fear and terror. However, I didn't enjoy this story. Even, Poe agreed that the ending was not so perfect.
but in the next moment I cursed myself for being so great a fool as to dream of hope at all.

Not so enjoyable.
Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile
3.5 stars. while not particularly creepy, it was interesting and vividly written so that i almost feel like i was living it myself.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating tale of a man's near-death experience in a giant maelstrom or whirlpool at sea.

A man on a ship is being sucked slowly toward a massive whirling pool of water. The bottom equals death and there's no way out. So how does he respond? At first, he gives himself over to his fate. He knows he's doomed. But in a way this is liberating. He "became possessed with the keenest curiosity" about the whirlpool and "positively felt a wish to explore its depths, even at the sacrifice I was going
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
A supposedly old man tells his story of getting into the whirlpool of the Moskoe-stroem while on a fishing trip with his brothers. The description is absolutely brilliant. You really see and hear the fellows drawn into the eye of the storm and you feel the rage of the elements. This certainly is the best depiction of a natural phenomenon I read. Absolutely recommended! Brilliant story!
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
65% of this edition is the story; the last 35% displays the covers of, as they disrespectfully call it, "Other Stuff By Poe." ...more
Charles  van Buren
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fictional tale of a real natural phenomena

This is a well-known story by Poe. It is considered by some critics to be a science fiction tale based upon an actual maelstrom off the coast of Norway in the Lofoten Islands. Its name in Norse is Moskstraumen or Moske-stroom. Rather than one huge whirlpool as described in Poe's story, it is actually a system of whirlpools, currents and cross currents. It is recognized as the second most powerful whirlpool in the world.

Poe's story is tense but the dram
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
'A Descent Into the Maelstrom' tells the story of a brave fisherman and his brother who take the risk of fishing near a gigantic maelstrom in the Norwegian sea, taking home considerably more fish than their fellow fishermen who remain on safer fishing grounds.

One night, a terrible storm plunges their ship right into the mouth of the vortex, meaning certain death for the brothers. The narrator speaks of overcoming his fear of certain death upon seeing the center of the maelstrom and beholding its
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I have yet to read another writer with the ability to take all my senses into a story and make me live it. Poe is a wonder and an amazement to me. He describes a whirlpool a mile wide, a descent, and an escape. This stressed me out, scared me. Wow. What great skill!
Jack Heath
3 Stars. Confession time, science fiction is not my thing, instead the unpredictability of real life continues to fascinate in both fiction and non. But the 17 page short story "A Descent into the Maelstrom" is just before Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," which I am eager to read! Both are part of a 1960, fifteen story collection, "The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales." I'm reading in order so, what the heck! In 1841, "Graham's Magazine" was the first to publish "Maelstrom." It o ...more
Debbie Zapata
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gutenberg
When I am reading and a book title is mentioned, I like to check and see if it is a real book. Then if it sounds interesting, I record the title and plan on reading it One Of These Days. Which is how I came across A Descent Into The Maelstrom. In Arthur Clarke's story Maelstrom II (from his collection The Wind from the Sun: Stories of the Space Age) the astronaut main character remembers reading the Poe story. I became curious so here we are.

I had not read Poe since school days and had never rea
Connie G
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Maelstrom is a vortex of water off the coast of Norway that whirls and drags objects to the rocky bottom of the sea. When a fishing boat encounters a hurricane it gets thrown off course into the area of the Maelstrom. Poe's short story is exciting and suspenseful as the fisherman tries to save himself from certain death from this violent force of nature. ...more
Vanessa J.
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This is why I'm afraid of traveling by sea. Thank you very much for reminding me, Poe.

P.S.: Poe should still be alive writing more stories.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another twisted Poe tale.
Jowayria Rahal
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I woke up this morning eager to do nothing but to celebrate the birthday of a man who loved with a love that was more than love. Everything was in its place but my own mind as it tried hard to wander the streets of Boston in its desperate attempt to figure out a way to celebrate this man's literary genius. It was until today's afternoon that I found out that I do not only own a copy of Poe's most tales, but that I also already have started reading one of his less appreciated not-so-short-stories ...more
K. Anna Kraft
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have arranged my thoughts into a haiku:

"Merciless whirling.
One's wits, one's greatest asset,
Battling terror."
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
rock you like a hurricane
José Cruz Parker
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
An awesome tale about a man who survives an encounter with the terrible Maelström. I really dug (yeah, I'm using that word) Poe's inclusion of physics near the end of the story. A Descent into the Maelström is one of his least known and most underrated tales, and I probably wouldn't have read it if I weren't such a big fan of his works. ...more
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The old fisherman once he calms his fear uses his observations and logic to save his own life. Actions that would make C. Auguste Dupin and Mr Spock proud. Excellent descriptive writing so much so I could almost taste, smell and hear the sounds of the sea.
Jerry Jose
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tianming's Fairy Tales from Death's End bought me here.

In this proto science fiction story, Poe's Narrator recalls his miraculous escape from a whirlpool(Moskstraumen), with chilling accounts of terror and helplessness against natural forces. But instead of succumbing to the morbidness, narrator tries to make sense of the danger he is in, with reason, hence the sci fi / math fi categorization. Readers do have the usual incentive and freedom to consider this as a horror story in conventional sens
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
It's been several years since I read this but I remember it felt flat: Poe simply tells a story and makes no effort to up the terror or to create tension. Perhaps that was his experimental way to create an unusual type of "horror" story. I'd say this is for Poe's fans only. ...more
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: zophael
The story is told by an Old Norwegian fisherman to a tourist at the top of a very tall mountain. The story of how he was caught during a storm in a maelstrom three years earlier with his brothers and how he survived. The old man recounts his ordeal that in less than a single day changed his hairs from a jetty black to white, weakened his limbs, and t unstrung his nerves. On a fishing trip with his brothers a storm arose fuelled by the most powerful and wicked hurricane that ever erupted from hea ...more
The Bibliophile Doctor

“To the right and left, as far as the eye could reach, there lay outstretched, like ramparts of the world, lines of horridly black and beetling cliff, whose character of gloom was but the more forcibly illustrated by the surf which reared high up against its white and ghastly crest, howling and shrieking forever.”


A short story , vividly described and written , sadly I could not find myself interested.
Aug 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This was so-so, probably my least favorite of Poe short stories so far.
A descent into the Maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe get a 5.4/10 stars.
Liz Wahba
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Not a bad little story, but as with some other Poe I’ve read the nesting of the tale was a bit pointless. The real story doesn’t start until the “old” man gets to the top of the mountain with the man he’ll tell the story to. I also felt like there was way too much conversation about the surrounding mountains! Irrelevant details. If you start the story about 8 pages in its much more enjoyable. The narrator’s emotions towards his impending doom are 5-star parts! I love the way Poe can make death l ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Description great. I live on the coast and am familiar with various hurricanes and other storms on the Texas Gulf Coast. So this story is credible to me. Yet it is difficult to follow. Poe used unusually obtuse here with his arcane language. Unnecessary. He could have used a more familiar landscape of the American Atlantic Coast. The arcane language makes story difficult to have full or even half appreciation of. Therefore 1 star.
Harry Doble
A study in both the Sublime and how to write about motion. Possibly the most Lovecraftian of Poe's short stories, except without the monsters and cosmic horror. ...more
Marwan Emad
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a tale.
The brilliance of Poe does not just lie with the fiction behind his short tales, but rather in the way they captivate you. The idea is so simple, but the narrative is from another world.
At the beginning, the setting of the tale was a bit confusing and i could not tell where was I. But line by line things start to clear a bit. A survivor from a near death experience resulting from a natural phenomenon is taking us deep into his memory of it, and we see how he recalls every detail.
Nov 30, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I find a Poe I like, I really like it. When I find a Poe I’m not crazy about, I find my judgement is rather harsh. A Descent into the Maelström falls into the latter category.

Although this was an atmospheric read, I was never pulled into it the way I had hoped to be. It was a quick read, one that I powered through in no time, but at no point was I hooked. I kept reading because I wanted to see how it ended, not because I was invested. I know many enjoy this one, but this is one of the Poe s
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, horror
I read this short story for an AP Literature class of mine. My group and I had to present it to the class and give a brief summary, describe the use of figurative language, use an example of literary criticism, etc. I found that there wasn't much literary criticism for the story to begin with. That may have had to do with the fact that the story itself didn't reach much popularity compared to Poe's other works. Despite the lack of popularity, I expected the story itself to be very interesting. P ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
...the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up body and soul.

When I first read about the Maelstrom, I found it intriguing, but nothing special. Since then, I've found myself continually thinking about it. I don't know what Poe was thinking when he wrote it. Perhaps he was just writing an interesting story, or perhaps he was exploring something deeper.

"A Descent into the Maelstrom" is about a man who experiences horror at sea. He and his brothers are fishing when they a
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Gothic Literature: A Descent into the Maelstrom by Edgar Allen Poe 3 11 Jul 17, 2013 11:36AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Unnamable
  • The White Ship
  • The Beast in the Cave
  • The Sphinx Without a Secret
  • The Terrible Old Man
  • Ex Oblivione
  • Funes el Memorioso
  • Azathoth
  • Celephaïs
  • The Festival
  • The Doom That Came to Sarnath
  • Young Goodman Brown
  • Cool Air
  • The Fisherman and His Soul
  • Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
  • Markheim
  • The Cats of Ulthar
  • A Little Cloud (Dubliners)
See similar books…
The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen, premature burials, and mysterious women who return from the dead. His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher. This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundreds of ...more

Related Articles

"Horror fiction has traditionally dealt in taboo.… It makes monsters of household pets and begs our affection for psychos. It...
578 likes · 765 comments
“To the right and left, as far as the eye could reach, there lay outstretched, like ramparts of the world, lines of horridly black and beetling cliff, whose character of gloom was but the more forcibly illustrated by the surf which reared high up against its white and ghastly crest, howling and shrieking forever.” 2 likes
“Here the vast bed of waters, seamed and scarred into a thousand conflicting channels, burst suddenly into phrensied convulsion-heaving, boiling, hissing-gyrating in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all whirling and plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water never elsewhere assumes except in precipitous descents.” 1 likes
More quotes…