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The Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection
Reviewed by Peggy Hailey, ©

Format: Book
By:   Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Price (narrator) and Basil Rathbone (narrator)
Genre:   Horror / Audiobook
Released:   2000
Review Date:  
RevSF Rating:   9/10 (What Is This?)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
Only this and nothing more."

Fall has finally fell in Texas (in theory, anyway), and my thoughts have turned, as they often do, to Halloween. There's a lot of scary stuff out there, from classics like Lovecraft to the more modern frights of Stephen King or Joe R. Lansdale. But for me, nothing says Halloween quite like the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

I remember reading somewhere that only Poe could wring true beauty out of the harshness of the English language, and he only could because of his mental troubles. Whatever the reason for it, I do dearly love Poe's writing. But as fun as it is to read it for myself, it is especially fun to have it read to me. The right reader can give even the more… excessive… passages of prose a dark beauty.

That is what has me so excited about this audio collection: 5 cds or 4 cassettes read by Basil Rathbone and Vincent Price. VINCENT PRICE, PEOPLE! Rathbone's mellifluous English baritone caresses the words and pulls the reader into the stories and poems. And Price, well, Price is Price, and even though I would cheerfully listen to him read a grocery list, his voice is uniquely suited for scary stories.

The collection covers a lot of ground, from poems like "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven" to classic chillers like "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Cask of Amontillado". But it also has longer works like "The Gold Bug" and "The Fall of the House of Usher", giving you a lot of bang for your buck. There are no sound effects, which is something of a downer given how well those can work in scary stories; but then again, with these performers "just the voice" is not too shabby. Plus, the price is right, with the 4 cassettes going for $25.95 and the 5 cds clocking in at a modest $29.95.

So don't miss your chance to check out these two readers giving Mr. Poe his due. 'Tis the season, after all.

Peggy would write more reviews if only that damned old man with the funny eye would stop staring at her.

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