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Edgar Allan Poe was one of the greatest American authors of the 19th Century...if not ever. Modern readers may find the flowery language that was typical of the date a little unnerving, but it is fantastic story-telling.
The collection starts with one of his creepiest---"The Tell-Tale Heart." We also get treated to the horror-ridden stories "A Cask of Amontillado," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum"...and, of course, "The Raven." I should point out that most of these stories (except for "Red Death" and maybe "The Raven") don't have a supernatural component to them...they are studies of the human mind and its reaction to a dark world and human losses.
Poe's works weren't all death-and-despair-riddled stories, since "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" is somewhere between horror and science fiction (Franz Mesmer's hypnosis work was cutting-edge psychology at the time), the detective in "The Purloined Letter" is a direct ancestor of S. Holmes and "The Gold Bug," after an odd start, becomes a fun treasure hunt story.
Edward Blake's narration is very good---I think he captures the stories very well. You can hear the change in his intonation when he moves from the creepy to the lighter stories (like "The Purloined Letter").
There are more complete Poe collections out there, but this is a great one to start with.
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