Book #97: The Pit and the Pendulum

I mentioned before that I always think of Edgar Allan Poe as a poet, even though I’ve read many of his short stories and the only poem of his that I’ve read is “The Raven.” I really like Poe’s short stories, though. In college some friends and I started a Dead Poets Society, and we’d meet around campus and read poems and stories by candle light. For Halloween, we snuck into the English department, on the top floor of Main, and read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe by flashlight. It was creepy and super, super fun.

I’m actually a little disappointed, because my absolute favorite Poe story is A Cask of Amontillado, and it’s not on the list. I might have to read it anyway. Actually, none of my favorites are on there. Maybe when it’s closer to Halloween I’ll read a few of them.

Anyway, to actually focus on The Pit and the Pendulum, which I’d never read before. Let’s get this one-liner out of the way: I knew there were allusions to Hell in this story, but I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition. Truly.

This story was pretty scary. I read it on my lunch break, and I kept finding myself getting really unsettled and anxious, even though I was just sitting in a comfy coffee shop. I think what did it most was all Poe’s vivid descriptions. He not only put me exactly in the cell with the narrator, but he used other senses like sound, smell, and even taste, to really trap me near the pit with the prisoner.

Rating: ****
Up Next: 2001: A Space Odyssey


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