Posted on October 17, 2016 by Billzilla
The Poe Twisted Anthology
Edited by Enrica Jang
Published by Red Stylo Media
Many of the works of Edgar Allen Poe, while considered classics of literature today, don’t often match up with modern literary sensibilities. It was somewhat surprising for me then, to come across Red Stylo Media’s The Poe Twisted Anthology, an excellent collection of seven original tales inspired by the works of Poe. Published in 2011, this collection does not consist of adaptations — retellings of Poe stories — but rather, a brand new batch of original tales in the same spirit as Poe’s work. As well as being available in a collected form — either in print or electronically from Red Stylo Media — the individual stories are each available as electronic downloads providing a low-cost option to more easily sample the collection.
The first story, “Absolution”, is written by Jason Ciaramella and illustrated by Enrique “Zeke” Savory, Jr. Absolution is a tragic tale of loss and guilt inspired by Poe’s poem “The Raven.”
Dead Man’s Hand, written and illustrated by Phillip Jacobson, draws its inspiration from Poe’s story “Never Bet The Devil Your Head”. The anthology’s second story tells of a couple of card sharks and the trouble they get into accepting a challenge from someone hungrier to win than they are.
The third story, “Eldorado”, is based on a short poem of the same title. The story, ostensibly about a drifter/prospector in search of the fabled City of Gold, takes the central premise of the poem and runs with it in intriguing ways. With the story by Sherezada Windham Kent and art by Alex Cormack, this is my favorite story of the collection.
What Marta Tanrikulu’s and Mark Mullaney’s story “Zombie Cruise” lacks in subtlety, it makes up for with a good story well told. In the original, a man must sneak the coffin of his deceased wife onto a cruise ship for the voyage home to bury her. The twist in this version is that the man’s wife is terminally ill, and her husband is taking her on a cruise to lift her spirits. The husband also places too much faith in an experimental cure he administers to her.
The Masque of the Red Death has perhaps been the most popular of Poe’s themes, and in Kyle Richey’s and Ben Frazier’s story “The After Party” the spirit of the Red Death returns from Medieval times to spread itself among a new crop of victims at the hands of a different wealthy lunatic. This story is much like the original that inspired it, and while perhaps not as creative as the others at re-imagining the concept, it is still a very effective story.
“The Tell Tale Cat”, written and illustrated by Alex Cormack, combines the storylines from The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado as seen through two police officers and the cat they are saddled with after an investigation.
Based on The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether, about an insane asylum where the inmates have taken over and imprisoned the former guards and doctors, “The System of Doctor Canne and Professor Bulle” picks up where the Poe story left off with a tale of how the doctors and guards get their revenge. The story and art are by Mark Mullaney.
This fun, chilling collection of stories is a fitting tribute to the writer widely thought of as one of the most influential writers in American Literature. Like any anthology there are stories that will appeal more strongly than others, but overall I found it to be highly satisfying. With Hallowe’en just around the corner, reading The Poe Twisted Anthology would be a great way to ring in the year’s spookiest holiday.
Review written by Bill Bodden