Tales of Death and Dementia by Edgar Allan Poe and Gris Grimly

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Tales of Death and Dementia by Edgar Allan Poe and Gris Grimly
Buy Tales of Death and Dementia from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Tales of Death and Dementia from Amazon.com

Genre: Graphic Novels
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: Edgar Allan Poe's wonderful short stories are given even more gothic atmosphere by Gris Grimly's outstanding illustrations. Even if mystery and the macabre aren't usually your cup of tea, you'll absolutely love Tales of Death and Dementia. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: September 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847386472

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Wow! What a wonderful combination: Edgar Allan Poe, master of the gothic horror short story, and Gris Grimly, outstanding illustrator, known for his work with Neil Gaiman. Poe's Tales of Death and Dementia are shown off at their very best in this edition.

The four short stories are The Tell-Tale Heart, The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, The Oblong Box and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. These macabre and mysterious tales delve into the dark recesses of the soul, looking at murder, guilt, lunacy, deceit, grief and the paranormal. It's Edgar Allan Poe; he's as good as everyone says. Discover or rediscover his work. It's excellent.

There are very slight abridgements to the text. The Tell-Tale Heart, for example, is missing First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. I'd usually turn my nose up at any abridgement, but I did have to hunt hard for what had been cut, and the editing has been particularly skilfully done. My preference would always be for the pure version, but in this particular case, it doesn't take the edge off the stories, and you probably won't notice anything missing anyway.

Gris Grimly's illustrations are as equally stunning as the text. If you want someone to illustrate death and dementia, he's the perfect choice. He's perfectly captured the atmosphere of the stories, added plenty of mood of his own, but never steps on the toes of the reader's imagination. I particularly love when he's illustrated characters screaming in anguish or madness, and the decidedly plain Mrs Wyatt in The Oblong Box amused me greatly. Tales of Death and Dementia steps somewhere between graphic novel and illustrations of the short stories. The words and pictures are treated as equals, each working brilliantly with the others to create a wonderful whole.

Adults and teens will love it, regardless of whether they're usually a fan of horror or graphic novels. It's simply a superb addition to anyone's bookshelves. I'd even go so far as to say older and brighter tweens with a taste for the macabre could dip into it too - the vocabulary is certainly much more challenging than they'll be used to, but the illustrations mean you're never lost, even if the young readers don't fully understand the words. Highly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Eye Classics: Nevermore - A Graphic Novel Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Various, Dan Whitehead (Editor) is also well worth a look, although it places a greater emphasis on illustrations rather than Poe's writing. Poe by Peter Ackroyd is a fascinating biography of the man.

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