Poe stories and poems: A graphic adaptation by Gareth Hinds

cover image Candlewick Press, 2017. ISBN 9780763681128
(Age: Secondary) Highly recommended. Themes: gothic horror, death, disease, insanity, loss, confinement. Edgar Allan Poe's classic gothic horror stories and poems remain popular, particularly The Raven 1845. In this collection of four story adaptations and three poems Hinds is able to amplify the horror and dread that infuse the American master of suspense's stories and the sense of sadness and loss of the poems. Each has its own rendered style and period with darkness and light masterfully used to complement and interpret the words. In the Masque of the Red Death a prince seeks to escape the horror of the plague which is ravaging his people by sealing himself and his court in a secure abbey. He holds a masked ball in a series of colour themed rooms, brilliantly rendered, until the inescapable red death enters and all colour drains away. Darkness pervades The Pit and The Pendulum as the protagonist in white outline, feels his way in complete darkness until a dim light reveals the horror of his situation. Trapped and immobilised under a descending blade very realistic rats surround him. The suspense as the swishing blade descends ever nearer is sustained and terrifying. The Raven is pencil rendered in monochrome, incorporating some images from the preceding stories while sinister images appear in the ever present raven's feathers.
The narrator is depicted as Poe, whose life, outlined in the Author's Note at the end of the book, seems to have been as remarkable as his writings and whose death mysterious. A visual key to Poe's recurring motifs is provided and discreet footnotes explain archaic words making the works accessible to all lovers of the macabre. Succinct notes on each piece at the end of the book wrap up this deceptively slim volume.
Highly recommended for making complex material more readable, being a bridge for students first encountering the classics, a great introduction to Edgar Allan Poe.
Sue Speck