I thought I’d share with you all a wonderful resource I use regularly to read literature in small installments absolutely free. It’s called DailyLit and the installments are delivered daily to your email inbox so you can read good books, even if you only have a couple of minutes free to do so every day – fantastic for the busy reader on the hop!
Therefore, I cordially invite you all to a month of thrills with Edgar Allan Poe. Registration is absolutely free of charge and all the books I propose to read next month are also available gratis, so I hope you’ll all join me in this journey into mystery and macabre with one of the greatest and best-loved horror writers ever published.
At the end of each book, I’ll make a post about it and invite you all to share your thoughts on them too – whether in a brief comment or by linking to your own blog.
1 – 7 November:
The Pit and the Pendulum (7 installments)
Edgar Allen Poe’s 1842 Pit and Pendulum is the story of a prisoner trapped in solitary confinement during the Spanish Inquisition. The prisoner’s cell is completely dark and, unable to make sense of his surroundings without light or sound, the prisoner collapses. When his eyes open, the prisoner makes a horrifying discovery. A deep and deadly pit lies at the center of the tiny space, promising certain death if the prisoner were to fall. As he contemplates this grim prospect, the prisoner notices something else he did not see before: a pendulum with a sinister blade swings sickeningly back and forth overhead. As we read on, we find that these two horrible threats are not the only ones the prisoner will have to face. How will he ever survive? Sentence yourself, if you dare, to thrills and chills in this work by one of literature’s greatest horror writers.
8 – 14 November:
Ligeia (7 installments)
Love defies all obstacles in Edgar Allen Poe’s 1838 story Ligeia, though not in the way you might think. The tale’s narrator, a young man, is deeply in love with his beautiful wife Ligeia. She is bold and intelligent, a most unusual woman. Tragically, Ligeia dies suddenly one night. Before she breathes her last, Ligeia makes a cryptic statement to her devastated husband about the difference between life and death being a matter of sheer willpower. Not taking much comfort in his wife’s last words, the inconsolable man buries her and moves abroad. Years later, he comes to marry another woman, although not with the same sense of passion and connection that he enjoyed with Ligeia. When his second wife, Rowena, also dies unexpectedly, the narrator sadly wraps her cold and lifeless body in cloth, in preparation for the grave. To his great amazement, however, Rowena’s body seems to stir, as though somehow coming back to life. As only the bravest of readers will find, the narrator is in for a surprise that can only be called out of this world.
15 – 22 November:
The Fall of the House of Usher (8 installments)
The dead rise from their graves and a house inexplicably takes on a frightening life of its own in Poe’s chilling 1839 story The Fall of the House of Usher. An urgent letter summons a man to the home of a friend and his twin sister. Upon arrival, our narrator finds that both Usher siblings—Roderick and Madeline—are seriously ill. Trying to comfort them, the narrator trades stories with Roderick and listens to his unusual and eerie music. Tragically, Roderick informs the narrator one day that Madeline has died and insists that she be buried immediately. Not questioning his friend’s extreme haste, the narrator helps his friend to lay Madeline to rest. Neither man is able to shake a strange feeling that seems to pervade the entire house, however. Then, on a stormy night, they see a mysterious light emanating from the ground around them. The narrator tries to calm Usher’s fears, but as the reader soon finds, there will be no peace until after the shocking conclusion of this tale—celebrated as one of the greatest works of gothic fiction ever written.
23 – 29 November:
The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Raven (7 installments)
Enter the chilling, bizarre world of one of the original masters of horror with this “Poe-Pourri”–a collection of three of Edgar Allan Poe’s spookiest (and short) reads. First is “The Tell-Tale Heart,” which tells the story of one man’s cruelty and guilt–or is it madness?–over the course of one fateful evening. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” it is the fate of hundreds of revelers that is at stake. Dancing at a masquerade ball held in a secure castle, the party-goers think they are safe from the vicious plague that is ravaging the countryside. Not all is as it seems at this sublime party, however, and the threat of death stalks the halls at every turn. Finally, Poe’s poem “The Raven” traces a man’s journey from despair to madness. Beautifully musical and eerie, this poem is haunted by the Raven’s famous refrain: “Nevermore.” These, though, are stories you won’t soon forget.