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Classic Tales of Horror

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Not for those of a nervous disposition, this chilling collection contains some of Edgar Allan Poe's best known stories, including The Fall of the House of Usher and The Masque of the Red Death.

Themes of guilt, fear and revenge abound as the master of gothic horror transports readers into mysterious worlds, carries them on dangerous sea voyages, and investigates gruesome murders in tales such as The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Cask of Amontillado.

Exploring the hidden depths of the human mind, these are tales full of thrills and intrigue.

The mortal immortal / Mary Shelley --
A vine on a house / Ambrose Bierce --
Green tea / J. Sheridan La Fanu --
Hurst of Hurstcote / E. Nesbit --
The mysterious stranger / Anonymous --
The bottle imp / Robert Louis Stevenson --
Dracula's guest / Bram Stoker --
Wandering Willie's tale / Sir Walter Scott --
Circumstance / Herriot Prescott Spofford --
The lifted veil / George Eliot --
One summer night / Ambrose Bierce --
The dream woman / Wilkie Collins --
The lost ghost / Mary E. Wilkins Freeman --
Carmilla / J. Sheridan La Fanu --
The banshee's warning / Mrs. J. H. Riddell --
Clarimonde / Theophile Gautier --
The upper berth / F. Marlon Crawford --
Thrulow's Christmas story / John Kendrick Bangs

238 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1964

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About the author

Edgar Allan Poe

7,123 books23.8k followers
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 essays and book reviews. He is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern detective story and an innovator in the science fiction genre, but he made his living as America’s first great literary critic and theoretician. Poe’s reputation today rests primarily on his tales of terror as well as on his haunting lyric poetry.

Just as the bizarre characters in Poe’s stories have captured the public imagination so too has Poe himself. He is seen as a morbid, mysterious figure lurking in the shadows of moonlit cemeteries or crumbling castles. This is the Poe of legend. But much of what we know about Poe is wrong, the product of a biography written by one of his enemies in an attempt to defame the author’s name.

The real Poe was born to traveling actors in Boston on January 19, 1809. Edgar was the second of three children. His other brother William Henry Leonard Poe would also become a poet before his early death, and Poe’s sister Rosalie Poe would grow up to teach penmanship at a Richmond girls’ school. Within three years of Poe’s birth both of his parents had died, and he was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan in Richmond, Virginia while Poe’s siblings went to live with other families. Mr. Allan would rear Poe to be a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer in emulation of his childhood hero the British poet Lord Byron. Early poetic verses found written in a young Poe’s handwriting on the backs of Allan’s ledger sheets reveal how little interest Poe had in the tobacco business.

For more information, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_al...

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5 stars
171 (16%)
4 stars
381 (36%)
3 stars
360 (34%)
2 stars
98 (9%)
1 star
29 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,738 reviews749 followers
May 29, 2019
I read a couple Poe stories in high school and college as I'm sure most everyone has but this is the first time I really delve into his work. I'm sad to say that I am a bit disappointed. I know this collection is just a fraction of his complete works and I'm sure there are many gems that weren't in this particular collection.

I only really enjoyed three stories from this one which normally would merit less than three stars. But the three stories that I did enjoy, I REALLY enjoyed. Actually, I didn't just enjoy them, I LOVED them. Those three stars were The Oval Portrait, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-Tale Heart. I was so engrossed by each of them, all for very different reasons.
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,356 reviews351 followers
October 27, 2020
This collection is a total mixed bag.

Some of these stories are A-Grade horror (eg. The Black Cat, The Masque of the Red Death), some are ridiculously terrible (The Imp of the Perverse), others just leave you scratching your head wondering what just happened, or what the point was (The Man of the Crowd, Some Words with a Mummy) and one had me in stitches from its absurdity (Never Bet the Devil Your Head). The first few and the last few didn't really rate with me (there's only so many tales of 'beloved's I can take), but there were some seriously great reads in amongst this volume.

Favourites: The Black Cat, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Masque of the Red Death.

I also have to give Never Bet the Devil Your Head a special mention because it was totally, unexpectedly, messed up. Honestly, I didn't stop laughing about it for a good half hour or so.

Least Favourites: The Imp of the Perverse, Some Words with a Mummy, Ligeia

A lot of the tales you really have to be patient with because Poe spends so much time setting the scene that it can be a little tedious. The power of his stories lies in the atmosphere his words create, and he goes to great lengths to communicate ideas.

He also kills people. A lot.

There are so many psychopaths in this book. The horror is how human he makes them seem. Again, he uses his words to craft characters that we understand, that we feel sympathy for despite the horrible actions they relate. It's masterful storytelling.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter were very reminiscent of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes; however, though entertaining reads, they were both inferior to Conan Doyle's work. It did help to lighten the tone of the book, though, so both presented a refreshing change of pace.

Poe deals a lot in symbolism and hidden meaning, so taken at face value some of these stories can be pretty dull and/or bizarre. For deep thinkers, there'll be a lot of different themes to mull over, like guilt, regret, fear, ambiguity and more.

Highly recommend if you're up for something a little bit different, and the stories are short enough that you can read a few here and there without getting too caught up in the bizarre. Just be prepared for lengthy descriptions and confounding ideas.

Profile Image for Jill.
187 reviews20 followers
October 13, 2018
A great collection of Edgar Allen Poe short stories. It totally got me in the spooky mood for October. Poe can be hard to get through sometimes, but I still enjoyed reading it. Poe was a pioneer of horror and psychological thriller, and it shows in his works. Last time I read Poe was in grammar school/high school, so I forgot how good he is at horror. My top 5 stories in this book are:
1. A Tell Tale Heart (obviously)
2. The Pit and the Pendulum
3. Berenice
4. The Black Cat
5. The Assignation (The Visionary)
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews379 followers
October 20, 2017
To be honest, I expected to like this a lot more than I did. By the end I just wanted the stories to stop. There are 21 stories in this collection and I enjoyed maybe half. Poe is very flowery. I think, in the future, if I look for more of his work I won't devour almost two dozen stories in three days. Poe might be a one story here and there kind of guy for me.
Profile Image for Evan Harte.
53 reviews1 follower
March 25, 2017
One of the most boring, depressing, and laborious chores I've ever forced myself to complete.

Poe's use of excessive amounts of language spanning multiple paragraphs and sometimes multiple pages when the same can be said in a few sentences makes me sick to my brain.

Maybe I "just don't get it". Or maybe I do and just don't care.
Profile Image for ana.
11 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2022
I was really excited to get into it but honestly some of the stories at the beginning dragged on and the language was really hard to follow. Drink for every time you read the word “epoch”! The only short stories I really enjoyed were The Fall Of The House of Usher, Tell-Tale Heart, Black Cat and Hop-Frog. Other than those, the rest are not too memorable. Still glad I read it, though! But I don’t think I’ll re-read this anytime soon
Profile Image for Erin.
80 reviews
November 3, 2022
I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy this book at all.
421 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2019
I finally got around to reading Poe. I felt somehow obligated because he's one of the most famous classic authors of America. Now that I'm no longer a student, I find myself reading fewer classics...maybe due to a deficiency in motivation or attention span?

I have two complaints about this edition. The first I can blame on the publisher. Poe has a tendency to throw in Latin, French, and Greek words (especially using passages as epigraphs), and no translation is provided. This is infuriating because a contemporary audience probably isn't well-versed in these languages and the onus shouldn't be on the reader to figure out what the text is saying.

My second complaint is that I'm really not interested in Poe's writing. I can respect the fact that he is one of the progenitors of the horror genre, but, other than that, there is nothing admirable in his work. It is long-winded and repetitive. The stories may have a kernel of a good idea or a worthy theme, but they are a chore to read. The writing is usually bogged down with pointless description. Poe is weak at writing characters and worse at writing dialogue (there are times that the dialogue is so bad that I laughed). The plots advance at a snail's pace. I suppose this is supposed to be "suspenseful" but it is simply boring. There isn't much variety in the stories in this collection...there are so, so many instances of people being buried alive or returning from the dead.

I am not sure whether I am glad that I read this book. I guess it adds a little bit to my literary "street cred," but honestly the stories are so forgettable that I may as well have not read them in the first place.
Profile Image for Jaffareadstoo.
2,567 reviews
October 31, 2017
his collection of twenty six tales of horror range from the macabre to the terrifying and all carry the characteristic trademark of Edgar Allan Poe doing what he does best, that is to entertain and disturb in equal measure.

It took me a little while to read this edition as the font is quite small and needs some concentration, however, what always comes across is the skillful level of writing, and whilst some of the stories didn't appeal, others most certainly did and left me with a feeling of disquiet for quite a while afterwards. Of course, the first story I turned to was that of The Black Cat, a clever little story which left me with a real feeling of unease and caused me to look at Jaffa with more than a hint of suspicion. There's also the classic short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, which was first published in 1839 and remains just as pertinent today as it did back then. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published in 1841, is thought to be the first modern detective story. Poe's detective C. August Dupin is probably the blueprint from which other authors took their inspiration in the portrayal of what we now consider to be the classic detective.

My feeling is that this is one of those anthologies which you can easily dip into and out of at whim, and once you get used to Poe's style of writing and his way of accentuating the oddness and the morbidness of the human spirit, then the appeal of these classic horror stories is strong as ever.
Profile Image for Sarah Howard.
64 reviews3 followers
October 27, 2020
Now that I'm somewhat more mature than I was in middle school (and less adverse to to the spooky and macabre), I'd hoped to discover some sort of love for Poe in this collection of short stories. Unfortunately, I found myself in a month-long reading slump because reading this book made me so tired. It almost seems like there was a cultural disconnect. I'd reach the end of each story and found that no matter how many summaries or how much reflection I did, I just didn't "get" it. There were a lot of things sprinkled in that seemed to be references to...something, but after 170 years, the context has changed and they no longer resonate. I'm pretty bummed at myself. At least now I know I genuinely don't like Poe's style and that it's not some weird pseudo-purity-police thing I had going on when I read him in school.
Profile Image for Alex.
53 reviews12 followers
August 7, 2017
It's been a long time since I've read any Poe stories, and I'm sure I've never enjoyed them more. They're dense and erudite, but not too archaic, and the abyssal depths of despair and madness, explored here with vigor, are as compelling now as ever. Not all of the stories are masterpieces, but I'd list Ligeia, Masque of the Red Death, and The Pit and the Pendulum as favorites. The Imp of the Perverse deserves special mention for its amazing title, and for artfully describing Freud's "Death Drive" in 1845.
Profile Image for BranPap.
49 reviews6 followers
June 6, 2020
It only took me 379 days to read this damn book, but I did it.

The qualifier here is that I actually just stopped reading it for several months at a time, multiple times. This isn't because it's bad (I actually really enjoyed it), it's just dense and there were often other things I wanted to read instead. Also, the prose itself is so entrancing that it made me sleepy every time I read it.

That being said, I love EAP. I don't think I'd ever read anything of his that wasn't The Tell-Tale Heart or The Raven before this, but most of the collected stories herein were really enjoyable. The only exceptions that immediately come to mind are A Descent into the Maelstrom and A Tale of the Ragged Mountains, both of which were kind of just boring.

The rest of the collection is pretty brilliant. Favourite horror stories include:
- The Masque of the Red Death
- The Pit and the Pendulum

And my favourite satirical story is definitely The Devil in the Belfry which I think I have retold about 80 times to my friends, because it is so surreal that it's HILARIOUS. Never has a short story made me cry from laughter so much!

This is a nifty little collection that's definitely worth picking up if you're looking for a diverse introduction to the works of EAP!
Profile Image for theo.
3 reviews3 followers
March 19, 2023
I found that many of the stories in this book were too bland to finish, but here are the ones that I found most interesting out of what I did read:
- Berenice
- The Fall of The House of Usher
- The Murders in the Rue Morgue
- Never Bet the Devil Your Head
- The Masque of the Red Death
- The Tell-Tale Heart
- The Black Cat
Profile Image for Saphire Aqua.
40 reviews
December 14, 2021
I liked most of the stories, some of them I felt more ehhh, and ofc some I thought were amazing. The old English was hard to read through so I read along with audio recordings of the stories if that tip helps anyone reading this lol.
Profile Image for Courtney.
23 reviews
January 10, 2018
Long, tough read. Some of the more classic tales (The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Hop Frog) were magnificent but the majority of the others were hard to follow and understand in Poe's old-timey dialect. I'm definitely up to give this a re-read in the future.

Advice for anyone picking this up for the first time: It's a read best saved for when you can give it your full attention and focus (ie. not on the rush hour bus to work).
Profile Image for Jay.
358 reviews21 followers
November 1, 2018
I like Poe's writing but his longer stories usually take at least half the story before they feel like they have become actual horror stories.
Profile Image for smrdasale.
36 reviews
July 29, 2021
I found it very difficult to read Poe in the beginning of the book, soon enough I got the hang of it, still I think it’s not the best collection, definitely going to check out more of his work.
Profile Image for Olivia.
14 reviews
February 14, 2023
i loved most of the stories, but some were barely readable. I dont understand why the publishers chose some of these when they arent the "best of"
Profile Image for Laura.
417 reviews18 followers
September 23, 2022
Did yall know that Edgar Allan Poe married his 13 year old niece when he was a grown ass man himself... Yeah me neither when I bought this book years ago.

Anyway glad to inform yall that I don't just dislike this man, I also dislike his writing. I legitimately only liked 2 stories out of the 36 in this book.
Profile Image for Noah Guerin.
51 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2022
I'm sorry to keep you waiting! It has been a busy month and paired with challenging nineteenth-century language it took me longer to finish this one than it should have!

Overall, a lot of these short stories were hit and miss. Some of them were short and succinct and had a great twist at the end while some of them just packed the first 10-15 pages with too many unnecessary details and took a hard right time at the end.

Some of my favorites besides the ringing of "The Tell-Tale Heart" and cough of "The Cask of Amontillado" which I had read previously in high school English class were the cute and cuddly pets in "The Pit and the Pendulum", the surprisingly brutal violence of "The Black Cat" and "Hop-Frog" which features surprisingly few amphibians.

I'm glad I got the chance to at least read these classics once over and I'm sure I will return to them for ghost stories to tell by the fire or perhaps to send chills up my spine on Halloween.
Profile Image for Andrew.
333 reviews13 followers
May 13, 2022
A truly delightful reading of four of Poe's greatest short stories by one of the greatest voices to ever narrate a story.

Christopher Lee and Edgar Allan Poe make the most delightful of bedfellows.
Profile Image for Taylor Carson.
197 reviews5 followers
July 23, 2020
Some of his stories are better than others, but this is a great collection of Edgar Allen Poe.
My favorite is “The Tell-Tale Heart”.
Profile Image for Kirill Abbakumov.
57 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2020
A reading full of contrasts. It was a definite slog given Poe's Victorian verbose writing that is hard to follow, and which most of the time I just didn't and skimmed some parts or didn't pay attention to. Quite a bit of obsolete vocabulary I had to actually look up in the dictionary.

Being a collection of "short stories" or rather "tales" some stories were gripping and others were obnoxious and absurd. A real mixed bag as each story speaks differently to each reader.

I found most of the stories to be extremely predictable, yet still enjoyable regardless. The subject matter of the grotesque, horror, and death fit well with some stories yet felt inappropriate or ill-fitting with others. At this point in time, most read as verbose children's tales. Definitely an "experience."
Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews

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