I often find that anthologies are hit-or-miss for me. I either love all/most of the stories in them or feel just luke-warm about them. In this instance, however, I ended up enjoying most of the stories.

Hello everyone!

I'm back with another book review His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler. Thanks so much to Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

As with my usual reviews of anthologies, I will give a review of each story, along with an individual rating and then some final thoughts at the end.

1. She Rode a Horse of Fire by Kendare Blake (inspired by “Metzengerstein”) 3.5/5 stars

Like most stories I’ve read by Poe, this one had the same sort of atmospheric, Gothic vibe. Freidrich Baron, the young master of the home is devastated after the fire that took the life of his latest fling, a young maid who happens to be the daughter of a prestigious family. He then meets a mysterious girl who seems to occupy all of his time and leads to his untimely death. I’m not really sure what the final message of this story is - although that’s another common theme with Poe and me!

2. It’s Carnival! by Tiffany D. Jackson (inspired by “The Cask of Amontillado”) 4/5 stars

I’m perhaps a bit more partial to this story having read the original before... and I’ve always loved a good revenge story. I’m a little murky on what Darrell did to be “Amontillado-ed”, it was sort of explained but I’m not sure I fully felt Cindy’s emotions that justified it. I would have loved to see this turned into a longer story with more details.

3. Night-Tide by Tessa Gratton (inspired by “Annabel Lee”) 5/5 stars

So far my favourite of the collection! This f/f retelling of Annabel Lee spins the tale on its head. While I don’t believe the original narrator of the poem is ever identified as male, there’s something about the voice, or perhaps the fact that Poe wrote it, that makes many readers assume the gender of the speaker. In this case, however, Annabel Lee’s lover is a young girl positively distraught over her death. I really enjoyed this one and I think the length suited the story perfectly!

4. The Glittering Death by Caleb Roehrig (inspired by “The Pit and the Pendulum”) 4/5 stars

Perhaps the most atmospheric of the stories so far, this one takes place in a more contemporary setting. The Judge, a serial killer on the loose, is after young girls who commit, in his view, any number of the Seven Deadly Sins. I’m not sure how closely this relates to the original story from Poe because it’s not one I’m familiar with but I did find it really interesting and another one that I would have appreciated a longer version of!

5. A Drop of Stolen Ink by Emily Lloyd-Jones (inspired by “The Purloined Letter”) 5/5 stars

Ok, maybe this one is my new favourite! A near-future retelling where your identity is embedded in the tattoo ink in your skin, sign me up! Top it off with stolen identities, spies, and a budding f/f romance? I’m sold! This one was one of the longer ones I’ve read so far in the collection and while things are more or less wrapped up, I’d love to see this one as a full length novel.

6. Happy Days, Sweetheart by Stephanie Kuehn (inspired by “The Tell-Tale Heart”) 4.5/5 stars

This was a fascinating and particularly topical story. I *think* I may have read the original, or at least heard a version of it because it seemed familiar, but I can’t quite be certain. I did really enjoy the story, it was definitely darker than any of the other retellings, but I think that added to the Poe-like nature. I think the length was perfect, I was drawn in right away and hooked until the very end. Definitely another favourite of the collection.

7. The Raven (Remix) by amanda lovelace (inspired by “The Raven”) 2/5 stars

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not really familiar with the original (scandalous, I know) or if I’m just out of practice with reading poetry but this one didn’t really jive with me. I think fans of the original poem by Poe would probably find it more interesting and come up with more succinct thoughts, but I’m not sure I’m capable.

8. Changeling by Marieke Nijkamp (inspired by “Hop-Frog”) 4/5 stars

I remember reading Hop-Frog, but I’m not sure I entirely remember what it was about. This version deals with fae and what the 1800s referred to as “crippled children” who were left out for the fae to take. This is a tale of revenge but also acceptance and coming into your own in the face of cruelty and evil. In addition to the differently-abled components of this story, there were also hints of a f/f relationship between two of the characters.

9. The Oval Filter by Lamar Giles (inspired by “The Oval Portrait”) 3.5/5 stars

Another one where I’m not really familiar with the original story. This one is about the murder of Tariq’s sort-of girlfriend. In typical Poe style, it is spooky, atmospheric, and, at times, borderline claustrophobic. By the end of it, I was questioning what really happened, but in a good way? I know things ended somewhat abruptly because it would have been less Poe-like to give the reader all the answers but I think I need to think a bit more on this one to fully get it.

10. Red by Hillary Monahan (inspired by “The Masque of the Red Death”) 2/5 stars

Knowing the original story, I thought I would enjoy this one more. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with the story. I’m not entirely sure what was happening and I don’t think I really know ~what~ happened in the end. I think there were just too many things missing from the story for me to fully get it.

11. Lygia by Dahlia Adler (inspired by “Ligeia”) 4.5/5 stars

I have a vague memory of reading the original story, something about a girl who dies and is replaced by another... I don’t quite remember. This retelling was really well done, I’ve liked the previous work I’ve read from Adler, so I wasn’t particularly surprised. This was another f/f romance story (can I just say I’m loving the number of f/f romances in this collection!) and I really loved the Gothic themes mixing with the more modern day elements.

12. The Fall of the Bank of Usher by Fran Wilde (inspired by “The Fall of the House of Usher”) 3/5 stars

I don’t know if it’s just my general dislike for hacker stories but I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. I know I’ve read the original story but don’t really remember everything exactly. But I think I remember the Gothic home and the all-consuming nature of it. I think this retelling did capture that feeling, even if I didn’t love the direction it took.

13. The Murders in the Rue Apartelle, Boracay by Ron Chupeco (inspired by “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”) 3.5/5 stars

One of the more diverse stories, this one focuses on a transgender main character and an American-Filipino love interest. I’m not familiar with the original story but I did find this retelling a bit more Agatha Christie-esque than Poe inspired. While this wasn’t a particularly bad story by any stretch of the imagination, I didn’t find myself as invested in it as I did some of the others. Perhaps if I knew the original story, I would have enjoyed it more.

I would say that the stories closer to the beginning of the book were more interesting for me, and even though I didn't know all the originals, I was still able to enjoy them. The original Poe tales are included at the back of the book so you can read them after or before the reimagined ones.

Overall, a solid collection of new stories that capture the essence of Poe while giving them a modern twist!