Halloween is just around the corner. You can tell it’s coming by the smell of pumpkin spice in the air. To prepare for my favorite holiday, I recently busted out my collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe. And just in case anyone else is disappointed with Netflix’s selection of scary movies, I have compiled a list of the five Poe stories you should read this Halloween season.
This one is a murder mystery too grisly for even an episode of Law & Order. A woman and her daughter living in Paris are found murdered-and decapitated- in their home. Who can solve the crime when the police can’t? The answer would be one Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin. Dupin uses logic and an amazing attention to detail that would later inspire Conan Doyle to create the most famous fictitious detective of all time. In fact, when reading “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” I am sometimes surprised when I see the name ‘Dupin’ instead of ‘Holmes’. After thorough investigation of the crime scene, Dupin discovers that the murderer is inhuman.
Hop-Frog is the king’s jester who happens to be crippled and have dwarfism. The king is frequently entertained at Hop-Frog’s expense, but one day the king goes too far when he messes with Hop-Frog’s woman. Hop-Frog comes up with a plan to get revenge on the king at his big party, and it turns into a murderous affair. This story blurs the lines between what is right and wrong, and leaves you questioning your own beliefs.
#3 The Cask of Amontillado
This is another story of revenge, but this one combines the creepiness of being set in the catacombs with the comedy of a happy drunk. Montresor is sick of Fortunato insulting him, so he decides to get back at him. Montresor lures Fortunato into the catacombs by promising him some Amontillado, which is a fancy wine, where he enacts his plan. Fortunato is too drunk to realize that something is wrong until it is too late. Only one man comes out of the catacombs. Like so many of Poe’s stories, this one has a surprising- and deadly- ending.
#2 The Tell-Tale Heart
This story is the account of a murder committed by an unreliable narrator. From the very beginning, the narrator asks why someone would think that he is crazy. If someone has been accused of being crazy, there must be a good reason for it, right? The narrator goes on to explain how he killed an old man because he disliked his eye. He then cut up the old man and placed the pieces under the floorboard. According to the narrator, he did such a good job committing the murder that it proves he cannot be crazy. This flawed logic leads the reader through the murder and its aftermath, including the police paying a visit to the narrator’s house.
#1 The Fall of the House of Usher
I am ranking this story as number one because it is super creepy and it is one of the few stories to use potentially paranormal elements. In this story, the narrator pays a visit to an old friend named Roderick Usher who has become ill. Roderick lives with his sister, Madeline, in the dilapidated family home which is more than likely haunted. During his visit, Madeline dies (so he thinks) and they place her in a tomb inside the walls of the house. After Madeline dies, strange things begin to happen around the house and Roderick’s condition worsens. The story comes to a climax the night that Usher- both the house and the family- finally fall.
– Caitlyn Dugas