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Poe: 19 New Tales of Suspense, Dark Fantasy and Horror Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe
edited by Ellen Datlow
Solaris, 525 pages

Ellen Datlow
Ellen Datlow was the fiction editor of OMNI from 1981 until it folded in 1998. She later worked as the fiction editor of SCIFI.COM. Her well-deserved reputation as an editor for both The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series and for the Fairy Tale Anthologies series has garnered her numerous awards.

Ellen Datlow Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008: Twenty-First Annual Collection SF Site Review: The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007: Twentieth Annual Collection
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection
SF Site Review: The Green Man
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 14th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 13th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Black Heart, Ivory Bones
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 12th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Silver Birch, Blood Moon
SF Site Review: Black Swan, White Raven
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 11th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: 10th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Fairy Tale Anthologies

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

The 200th birthday of Edgar Allan Poe is the occasion for the renowned editor Ellen Datlow, to assemble another anthology of nineteen original stories somehow inspired to Poe's life or work. Under such a broad label, the tales display an enormous variety of styles and genres, where anyone can find something to like or to dislike.

Having said this, allow me to digress a bit. Usually, when I'm reading a book I'm supposed to review, I refrain from browsing the comments by other reviewers, to avoid being influenced by their opinions on the single tales. This time,however, I have surrendered to the temptation and, having run across various reviews of Poe while surfing the net, I've read not one, but three commentaries about this anthology.

One reviewer states that his two favorite tales are "Kirikh'quru Krokundor" by Lucius Shepard and "The Pikesville Buffalo" by Glen Hirshberg. By contrast the second reviewer criticizes both stories, saying that the former "suffers from sluggish exposition in which too much time is expended trying to make random hook-ups disturbing" and that Hirshberg's contribution is "confusing." Incidentally, I totally agree with the second reviewer -- a shame about Hirshberg, an author who, at his best, is simply great but here is not. The third reviewer is particularly enthusiastic about Steve Rasnic Tem's "Shadow" and John Langan's "Technicolor," two pieces which failed to impress me at all.

Gregory Frost's "The Final Act" is "arguably the weakest story in the anthology" according to reviewer #3, whereas reviewer #1 finds it "fascinating and suitably shuddery." Another misfire, in the opinion of reviewer #3 is Melanie Tem's "The Pickers," a story which seems to please reviewer #2 enough and that reviewer #1 reports as being "very chilling and atmospheric."

Enough. Anyone is entitled to take his pick, so I'll take mine.

I found Melanie Tem's "The Pickers" (creatures living on discarded objects and leftover food) to be a compelling and very disturbing tale, vividly describing the difficult relationship between a widow and recent mother with one of these creatures.

Gregory Frost's "The Final Act," featuring two lawyers and an unfaithful wife, is an excellent example of great storytelling with a surprising, wonderful twist in the tail.

"Mountain House" by Sharyn McCrumb is a dreamy, nostalgic tale of life and death set in the world of car racing.

In the beautiful "The Brink of Eternity," Barbara Roden provides a fascinating, semi-fictional account of the perils and the overwhelming attraction of arctic exploration.

Delia Sherman contributes "The Red Piano," an intriguing story of sorcery and passion taking place in a house with an evil soul.

In "The Reunion" the always dependable Nicholas Royle, inspired by Poe's "William Wilson" gracefully revisits the classic theme of doppelganger, while David Prill ("The Heaven and Hell of Robert Flud") creates a terrifying gothic tale where a traveling salesman gets trapped into a nightmarish horror in a remote farmhouse.

Poe's "The Murder of Marie Roget" triggered Kristine Kathryn Rusch to write "Flitting Away," a horrifying story of violence on a woman whose life is ruined forever by a rejected suitor. The echo of similar, true stories happening in real life makes the piece even more frightening.

My favorite tale is "Truth and Bone" by Pat Cadigan, a wonderful yarn graced by a terrific narrative style and excellent dialogue. Loosely inspired to Poe's poem "The City in The Sea," the story revolves around a family where each member is endowed with a peculiar psychic power.

No doubt, a fifth reviewer would mention a bunch of different tales... Check the book out yourself and make your own choices.

Copyright © 2009 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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