Today marks the 170th anniversary of the death of Edgar Allan Poe, and there’s no question that his legend and his work have long surpassed his brief time on this mortal plane. I was lucky enough this year to edit a tremendous collection of reimaginings of thirteen of his works (more on that in a moment!) but it certainly does not stand alone in re-purposing Poe for the YA audience. Here are five great ways to get to make this deathiversary a little more…Poetic. (I had to. Obviously I had to.)
His Hideous Heart, ed. by Dahlia Adler
And speaking of that collection! The anthology’s full subtitle is “13 of Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find inside. From a tragic Sapphic take on “Annabel Lee” to “The Cask of Amontillado” set at the West Indian Day parade to historical disabled faes retaking “Hop-Frog” to the thoroughly modern twist on the titular story, these stories feature Poe with an accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity of genre that truly pulls Poe into the 21st century (and includes the original stories, too!). And while yes, I’m totally biased, I’m also not wrong.
The Raven’s Tale, by Cat Winters
This year’s other big Poe-centric release takes an entirely different tack, with historical fantasy mistress Winters reimagining not the work but the man himself…and his (literally) spirited muse, Lenore. This unique, clever, atmospheric story pulls readers into an imagined version of Poe’s teen years, from his familial clashes to his romantic struggles, as he’s visited by a macabre new muse who just will not go away. What’s a boy to do when he’s forbidden to spend his time on tales but cannot control his own mind without them? Trust me when I say you want to lose an autumn evening or two to find out.
Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery, by Mary Amato
Yes, this book is as wonderfully weird as it sounds, and while it, like Winters’ work, plays with Poe the person, it’s set during a different stage of his life…or rather, his death. In fact, its heroine is Lacy, who’s just found herself waking up dead in Westminster Cemetery, which you might recognize as Poe’s final resting place. There, she learns that every resident must take on a job, and so she begins the cemetery’s open mic night. Of course, one of those cemetery’s residents is Edgar Allan Poe himself, and shockingly, he’s not quite up for sharing his best rendition of “Single Ladies,” but he’s still a hoot to see, even in a bit part.
Masque of the Red Death, by Bethany Griffin
Well, you can probably guess which of Poe’s works this Gothic Dystopian is based on! It stars Araby Worth, a girl who lives high above a city riddled with plague and parties away the memory of it while her father, the inventor behind the mask that keeps the wealthy safe to party, searches for a cure to the Weeping Sickness. When Araby meets some new party buddies who happen to be part of a rebellion, she finds something new to live for, and a host of dark secrets. But wait, that’s not all of Griffin’s EAP magic; in addition to Masque‘s sequel, she’s also the author of The Fall, a psychological thriller based on “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
Paperback $13.93 | $14.99
Poe: Stories and Poems, by Gareth Hinds
Sometimes, you just want the original text, but in a way cooler format, which is where Hinds’s 2017 graphic novel comes in. Giving gory Gothic visuals to the macabre tales we know so well, this adaptation contains seven of Poe’s texts, complete with illustration and commentary, making for a beautifully gruesome and accessible introduction to this dark world.