Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adding illustrations to Poe does not make it a children's book

Tales of Mystery and Madness
Edgar Allan Poe (illustrated by Gris Grimley)

Do not be fooled by the childlike cover of this brief collection of illustrated short stories, the contents are disturbing! Of course, I would expect nothing less of Poe...

The Black Cat: a loving and innocent house cat drives his owner to ghastly acts of violence.
The Masque of the Red Death: a grim-reaper-esque vistor brings a plague of violent death to a village.
Hop-Frog: a cruelly treated court jester extracts his revenge on the tortuous king.
The Fall of the House of Usher: a hypochondriac man is visited by a childhood friend when his adored sister falls seriously ill.

All of the stories were filled with classic Poe horror and accompanied by gothic drawings to further illustrate the atrocities of the plots. I like Poe - he is sick and twisted and seems to write about the most basal evil that can be found in each of us but we never admit too. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of childhood he had....without really wanting to be told!

The illustrations were well done but I find that I am not a fan of making Poe appealing to juveniles, there is just something poetic about reading Poe in dark black type on the stark white pages. The subject matter is too dark for the drawings that attract pre-teen readers and the drawings would probably prevent an older teenager from picking the book up.

However, as an adult not impeded by the stigma of middle- and high-school societies, the book was a quick and easy read!

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