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The Devil's Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes

4.91  ·  Rating details ·  35 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Winner of the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry.

H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) t
Paperback, 121 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by StrangeHouse Books
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Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"I am / your American serial killer, wrapped up / in 19th century shreds of screaming women."

I adore Sara Tantlinger's poetry, and I am intrigued by the story of HH Holmes, so I knew The Devil's Dreamland was going to be perfect for me as soon as I heard about it. I started it as soon as it arrived, and it quickly became one of my favorite books I've read this year.

Sara's research was so in-depth, and you can see the love she had for this project poured out into the pages. Although the poems h
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure, I know small tidbits about H.H. Holmes, but I've never really read about him in detail or watched any documentaries. So this book of poetry is essentially my introduction to him, and it was perfect. Tantlinger doesn't assume that readers know the details, so she gives you small amounts of information for a number of the poems, including an author's note at the beginning of the collection.

Essentially, these poems gave me just enough to want to know more, while at the same time s
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read an advanced copy of this excellent collection and provided a recommendation for the cover -- and now that it's out, I'm rereading it and in awe of how good this book is all over again.

The Devil's Dreamland is a deeply-researched and daring crime documentary, told through verse, that persistently invites the reader to contemplate the unimaginable through a historical autopsy of Chicago's historically heinous murderer, HH Holmes. More deviant and inexplicable than Jack the Ripper, Holmes i
Andrew Stone
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is great! One of my favorite poetry collections I've ever read. Def recommended for horror / history / serial killer fans of all mediums.
Tracy Robinson
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
All. The. Stars. Amazing poetry collection surrounding HH Holmes.

I have always been fascinated with books, documentaries, and tv shows dealing with true crime, especially those centered around serial killers. Last year, I watched a Netflix documentary on H.H Holmes, and just before I learned of Tantlinger's book, I was already listening to a podcast series on H.H. Holmes. Why are my viewing and listening habits relevant? Because it made my reading experience so wonderful as I saw Tantlinger cre
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
As a true crime buff and new fan of horror poetry, this combination of both was a must-read for me!

The collection reads more like a story, following Holmes from his beginnings, to his first forays into crime and other ill pursuits, to the building of his murder castle in Chicago, and beyond. I thought I would read a few each day, but I got sucked into the narrative flow of the poems and ended up reading through it mostly in one sitting. It isn't the type of poetry book you would want
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you so much, Sara Tantlinger, for providing me with a review copy of The Devil’s Dreamland!

This collection of poetry is inspired by serial killer, H.H. Holmes. & that right there is probably why I was so ecstatic to read it. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology & had a heavy emphasis on studying the mind of serial killers. For those who are unaware of H.H. Holmes, he is considered to be America’s first serial killer & committed most of his heinous crimes in what
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, horror, true-crime
I'm in awe of this collection of poems. I already knew plenty about HH Holmes—I've read several books about his crimes. This is something else entirely. The scholarship is excellent, and she clearly knows her subject inside and out, and I mean way inside. The blending of fiction with fact is seamless as she explores the thoughts of the killer as well as those of his victims. There are some truly magnificent insights here, and some of them are beautiful, and some of them are chilling. And, on top ...more
Sonora Taylor
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 out of 5. A wonderful, haunting tale of HH Holmes’ life and misdeeds, all woven through poetry. Tantlinger’s verses are vivid, well-constructed, and creepy. I really enjoyed this collection.
Claire Holland
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tantlinger weaves a dark and stunning story. Highly recommend.
Suzy Michael
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books

Sarah Tantlinger takes us inside the mind and house of one of America's most prolific, and possibly first serial killers, H.H. Holmes. The Devil's Dreamland is a collection of poetry centered around the man and the mystery, taking a look at all aspects of his life in chronological order. Chilling and engrossing, The Devil's Dreamland is a must read for true crime and horror fans alike!

H.H. Holmes rose to fame with the horrific crimes he committed in the late 19th century, many of whi
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
The Devil's Dreamland caught my attention because some of the Ladies of Horror were talking about it. When I learned that it was poetry inspired by H.H. Holmes...well, how could I resist? Holmes (or Mudgett, however you want to refer to him) has always been pretty fascinating. As a serial/signature killer he stands out a bit. Most killers that fall under those labels tend to have preferred types and methods of killing and killing for monetary gain seems to be fairly rare. And let's be honest, th ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an incredible read. I wanted to give it 5 stars just based on the premise, which is so creative and unique. Of COURSE I want to read a book of poetry that shows me the perspectives of the serial killer H.H. Holmes and the people he worked with, purchased medical items from, and murdered! Then I read it, and damn! It's amazing. It's really enthralling. The poetry format still came across as a full story and for those who might not enjoy poetry, it isn't what you think. It's better. It p ...more
Fred Shrum
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From dark poet Sara Tantlinger comes an evocative take on malevolent charmer H. H. Holmes.
Sara's tome is part biography, part blueprint and part history. All wrapped in poetry that will leave you breathless. Through Sara you will realize all the hallmarks of a killer in Holmes's upbringing. Psychologic knowledge that we didn't have in Holmes's time. "The Tenant" builds a sense of tension to a heart pounding conclusion. With "chloroform" unease turns into alarm. "The Kiln" reads like a tune
Sarah Read
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love true crime, check. Love historical lit, check. Love horror, check. Love poetry, check. Love Love Love this book. I was fascinated by this concept from the beginning—a biography of a serial killer told all in poems? Tantlinger does an amazing job painting the life of H. H. Holmes and his victims. It’s done with darkness and sympathy and without flinching away from the horror of it all. If flows smoothly, then slaps you in the face with lines like, “are these not your father’s teeth?” Pure co ...more
Well Read Beard
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books
Wonderful collection of linear poetry, telling one story - the life of the horrific serial killer H.H. Holmes. I love the format - It was easier to read than most poetry collections due to the it being a single story. I am all in with this type of book, I want more - a series of serial killer poetry collections? This is my 2nd book by Sara - both were ridiculously amazing reads - both have grown my love of poetry.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really do not like poetry at all. I got this book in a Nightworms horror subscription box and after reading the synopsis figured I would give it a try. I loved it!!! I loved how each poem progressed the overall story along. I will be keeping an eye out for this writer in the future. I think I'll even get her first book of poetry.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book from the start to the finish it gripped me all the way through I could not stop reading it it displays perfectly the man we know Holmes to be
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved these poems about Holmes. It was like finding his secret journal and reading about all the heinous things he did.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant.... horrifying.....
Cristina Isabel
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interestingly detailed and more than moderately disturbing are the poems written by Ms. Tantlinger, about Dr. H. H. Holmes.  Sara uses her voice to wield you into the life and mind of the doctor himself, along with his victims and people closest to him.  I gravatated to these poems because I had heard of the great Dr. H. H. Holmes, but never knew the real story behind the brilliant formation of his monster mind.  After reading the first one, I was caught in a web of gore, intrigue and I wasn't g ...more
Andrea Blythe
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The Devil's Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes by Sara Tantlinger is a profound and chilling collection, which blend fact and supposition to relate the life and times of the man thought to be America's first serial killer. The poems are visceral with a fascinating narrative arc. I was excited to have been able to recently interview Sara for the New Books in Poetry podcast, which should be available soon.

Edited to Add: My podcast interview with Sara Tantlinger is up at New Books in Poetr
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tantlinger’s exquisite poems are a brutal and beautiful exploration into the psyche of “America’s first serial killer,” H. H. Holmes, and those around him, earning her a well-deserved Stoker Award. Three blocks from my house stands a low stone wall, all that remains of Moyamensing Prison where Holmes was executed. While his ghost haunts my neighborhood, Tantlinger’s evocative collection brings him back to terrifying life.
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Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes. She is a poetry editor for the Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s MFA program, a member of the SFPA, and an active member of the HWA. She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @ ...more