In the Shadow of the Master

by Edgar Allan Poe (2009)

6/10

A nice enough — though far from vital — collection of Poe’s greatest hits. The hook is that editor Michael Connelly recruited a couple handfuls of modern authors to write blurbs after each story. Stephen King and Sue Grafton are the headliners while the others are probably known only to fans of modern mysteries and thrillers.

Given the hook, the main disappointment of the volume is just how vacuous most of these blurbs are, with few of them having anything to say beyond, “Wow I remember how scary my first Poe story was when I was (insert age here). He has influenced everyone!” Several even admit to not really liking Poe but writing this as a favor to Connelly. That’s strange stuff to mold a tribute out of.

It’s nice enough to mark the occasion of Poe’s 200th birth year, and it’s always great to read classics like “The Cask of Amontillado,” “Black Cat,” and “The Raven,” so you know there’s no way it can be actively bad. But oddly enough the best thing I can say about the book is that its layout is impressively handsome, with wonderful title pages, illustrations and fonts. Beyond that, it’s not indispensable for anyone except the most ardent Poe enthusiasts.

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