Cover of His Hideous Heart, with a red and blue illustration of a human heart

Cover Story: Like a Watch Wrapped in Cotton
The Best:
“Night Tide”, “The Glittering Death” “Red”
The Worst:
“It’s Carnival!”, “The Raven (Remix)”
The Weird: 
“The Oval Filter”, “The Fall of the Bank of Usher”
Bonus Factor:
Edgar Allan Poe
Break Glass In Case Of:
You Need a Good, Safe Chill

Cover Story: Like a Watch Wrapped in Cotton

What you see is what you get. It would be hard to mistake this for a compilation of romantic stories.

The Deal:

Thirteen authors rewrite Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales with a modern twist. The book also includes the original tales, though maddeningly, there’s no headers, so it’s easy to lose your place if you don’t use a bookmark.

The Best: “Night Tide”, by Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”)

Set in the Gilded Age, a young woman enjoys a yearly tryst with Annabel Lee while on vacation. But this year, Annabel Lee is not coming back. Not ever. As haunting as the original poem.

The Best: “The Glittering Death”, by Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”)

A young woman finds herself the captive of a deranged serial killer, who condemns her to death after a mock trial. Locked in a cage, her only chance of escape is her own cunning and guile. A little trope-y, it still kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Best: “Red”, by Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”)

A mysterious woman wanders into a club so trendy that few are allowed in. She has a surprise for everyone in the last room, when the clock strikes midnight.

The Worst: “It’s Carnival!”, by Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”)

A girl is tired of being insulted by a boy named Darrell, so she temps him with a home brew drink and then walls him up in the basement during a Carnival celebration. A solid story, but Darrell is Caribbean, and she writes his accent phonetically: Why your fadda has keys to the basement? That’s one of my pet peeves as a reader. You have to make the reader hear the accent, be it Ozark, Boston, or Jamaican, without resorting to spelling it out.

The Worst: “The Raven (Remix)”, by Amanda Lovelace (“The Raven”)

The author simply took the original poem and struck out 90% of the words, attempting to create a new story from what was left.

The Weird: “The Oval Filter”, by Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”)

When a high school athlete’s secret girlfriend dies, he’s haunted by her image on social media. Somehow, her account stays active.

The Weird: “The Fall of the Bank of Usher”, by Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”)

Two siblings are invited to raid a bank to test its security systems. But there’s something uncanny about this bank. Something sinister.

Bonus Factor: Edgar Allan Poe

Photo of Edgar Allan Poe

I know our high school English teachers hit us over the head with his works, but he was the one of the first American horror writers and his stories live on and on (no matter how many times they’re buried). This book will make you appreciate the death-obsessed, alcoholic, 13-year-old-cousin-marrying writer.

Break Glass In Case Of: You Need a Good, Safe Chill

With the exception of “The Glittering Death”, none of these were especially frightening, though they were all compelling. I can’t help but suspect that they chose 13 for the aesthetic effect, and we could have had a modern take on a man composed entirely of spare parts, a murderer getting ratted out by a feline, or someone being hypnotized at the moment of death.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor a chance to be buried alive for writing this review.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.