Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Review: Steampunk Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe, illustrated by Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac

Steampunk Poe
by Edgar Allan Poe
illustrated by Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac 
Running Press Teens
263 pages 

In honor of the Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl, how about a review of a book that pays homage to their namesake, Edgar Allan Poe?

This book caught my eye in the teen section of our library several months back and I was immediately intrigued. I kind of love me some Edgar Allan - and my introduction to Steampunk last Christmas wasn't too bad either.

If you're unfamiliar with the idea of Steampunk, it's a little different. Wikipedia defines Steampunk as 

"a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Therefore, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art.

According to the jacket copy of Steampunk Poe, this is described as "a marriage between Edgar Allan Poe and Steampunk, the likes of which may surprise admirers of both writer and genre. Of course, there will be some who have always believed that gothic madmen and clockwork gears were destined to make brilliant companions. Inside, the classic works of Edgar Allan Poe are presented in their original form, with the dark tales of horror and mystery heightened by equally dark and mysterious Steampunk illustrations."

The short stories contained within include Poe's classics "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Balloon-Hoax," "The Spectacles," and "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether."

Of the poems, we have "The Raven," "To Helen," "The City in the Sea," "A Dream Within a Dream," "The Conqueror Worm," and "The Bells."

I was relieved to see that Poe's stories and poems were kept to their original form. Every so often you hear about some publisher wanting to modernize some classic or another, and I thought this was going to be something along those lines. Thankfully, it wasn't. This was especially good because, while I liked the steampunk elements in the illustrations, several of the Poe stories and poems were new to me (or ones that I needed a refresher in, since I probably hadn't read them since high school or before).

This is an entertaining book (although it is much heavier in weight than it looks!). The illustrations are quirky and and fun, and the stories give the reader just the right amount of Poe that is perfect for a cold winter's night (or, even better, around Halloween). I could see where this would be appealing for young adults and hopefully entice them to explore more of Poe's work.

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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