ARC review, book review, young adult

His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler (ARC Review)

TitleHis Hideous Heart
Editor: Dahlia Adler
Type: Fiction, Anthology
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Short Stories, Retellings
Publisher: Flatiron Books
(Macmillan Publishers)
Date published: September 30, 2019

A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morge”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).

⤖ Story by Story Review ⬻

“She Rode a Horse of Fire” by Kendare Blake – ★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “Metzengerstein,” and I found it to be an interesting modern representation or retelling of Poe’s original. Aside from that, I didn’t find it to be particularly thrilling though. One part or two gave me goosebumps, and I remember what happened in the story (now quite a few days after having read the story), but overall I found it be just alright.

“It’s Carnival!” by Tiffany D. Jackson – ★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.” Tiffany D. Jackson’s story pulled me in a bit more. “It’s Carnival!” takes place in a more modern setting, like the previous story, but there was definitely more suspense and nailbiting involved on my part while I was reading it. I also found that I really struggled with deciding who was good and who was bad.

“Night-Tide” by Tessa Gratton – ★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee.” Gratton’s take on the short story was alright. It didn’t feel as modern as the other stories, setting-wise and due to the subject matter. Despite this, “Night-Tide,” definitely felt at least a little more modern than the original by Poe.

“The Glittering Death” by Caleb Roehrig – ★★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendullum.” Roehig’s version of Poe’s short story was the first one to really pull me in. It gave me major The Silence of the Lambs vibes, which is a good thing! There was also a bit of the occult vibe from the original story included in “The Glittering Death,” but I didn’t find that it quite captured that feel exactly (which is understandable since no one but Poe himself can write like Poe).

“A Drop of Stolen Ink” by Emily Lloyd-Jones – ★★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” and I found this take on the story stood out for me because it was the first one in His Hideous Heart to have more of a futuristic or sci-fi feel to it. There’s definitely some tech in Lloyd-Jones “A Drop of Stolen Ink” that we don’t actually have yet in the real world (that I’m aware of at least), and I really like how the story developed and ended!

“Happy Days, Sweetheart” by Stephanie Kuehn – ★★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Going into this story, I found myself wondering how Kuehn was going to re-write one of Poe’s most famous short stories in a way that was fresh. But she didn’t let me down in that regard! “Happy Days, Sweetheart” was almost as dark as the original, made my skin crawl a little, and I also liked that the author put a kind of feminist spin on it.

“The Raven (Remix)” by amanda lovelace – ★★★★

This poem was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and I found amanda lovelace’s take on it to be quite interesting! I can’t say much without spoiling the entire poem though, so I’ll have to let you all check this one out for yourselves!

“Changeling” by Marieke Nijkamp – ★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hop Frog.” This was one of the stories that I found to be the least similar to the Poe original. I did find it to be structured in an interesting way visually and chronologically, but otherwise, I found Poe’s original to be more of an interesting read for me personally.

“The Oval Filter” by Lamar Giles – ★★★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Oval Portrait,” and this was my favourite story in the His Hideous Heart anthology! The story pulled me in from the very beginning, and I really got a feel for the characters (especially the main character) part-way through “The Oval Filter,” (which is something that I normally struggle with when it comes to short stories). Giles’ retelling gave me chills and I was on the edge of my seat while reading most of the story!

“Red” by Hillary Monahan – ★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” This was another modern, contemporary take on one of Poe’s short stories, and while I found it to be interesting while reading it, looking back…I don’t quite remember what happened. I definitely find the original to have been the better story for me personally in this case.

“Lygia” by Dahlia Adler – ★★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ligeia.” I really liked the writing in Adler’s retelling. I also liked that it was LGBTQ+ and that it left me feeling a bit creeped out and questioning what had actually happened in the story. “Lygia” was definitely one of the top stories for me in this anthology.

“The Fall of the Bank of Usher” by Fran Wilde – ★★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” This was the longest short story in His Hideous Heart, and I found that I was a little frustrated at first when I noted the length of it. I like my short stories to stay short (although I guess sometimes I want really good short stories to be turned into full-length novels, so that’s not entirely true in all cases). But anyway, I found the world-building to be great in this one, and also liked the futuristic + eerie aspects of the retelling.

“The Murder in the Rue Apartelle, Boracay” by Rin Chupeco – ★★★★

This short story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murder in the Rue Morgue.” I found this one to have one of the more unique settings in this anthology. Partway through, I also found that I forgot I was reading a Poe retelling. There was absolutely nothing Poe about this story other than the similarity in plot lines, I found. This wasn’t a bad thing necessarily, though. I also liked the use of a lot of words native to the location, since that also really pulled me into the setting. The ending was also quite satisfying.

⤖ Overall Review ⬻

Overall, I’m glad that I read His Hideous Heart! I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, but that’s absolutely normal with an anthology. Also, just because a story didn’t resonate with me doesn’t mean it won’t be your favourite story in His Hideous Heart! I read this book in October, which I found to be a good time of year to dive into these stories, and I hope that this turns into a series with more Edgar Allan Poe short story retelling collections on the horizon!

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3 thoughts on “His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler (ARC Review)

  1. Great reviews! I liked that you went through these one by one, since there are so many different authors here! I’ve had my eye on this anthology and am glad to see that so many of the stories worked so well for you!

    1. Thank you! And yeah I figured because there were so many authors and voices here, it wouldn’t be right to lump it all together and have the ratings of some of the stories affect the other stories. I hope that you enjoy this anthology too when you pick it up!

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