Top 10 Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories That Will Get You Hooked on His Work

Tags: #ShortStories ,   #BookLover ,   #Horror ,   #EdgarAllanPoe

Peony Hill

Peony Hill

Last updated:  2023-05-16 06:00:08

Edgar Allan Poe's name can often be heard in literary circles. If you're not already familiar with his work or don't know anyone who is, looking for where to start might get overwhelming. Luckily, we're huge fans of his books and know just the things that'll get you hooked. There's something incredibly creepy in old-school horror, so let us introduce you to it in our top ten list.

10. The Oblong Box

Poe's the master of creepiness

Some stories seem strange only once you've reached the end. Sure, there may be some abnormal happenings here and there, but ultimately nothing is all that disturbing. And then you reach a conclusion, and everything clicks. Pieces fall into place and make a gruesome, horrifying picture. Then, all you can do is shudder.

If you pay close enough attention and look past the complicated language of the 19th century, "The Oblong Box" will be one of those stories. Although the wording can sometimes be confusing, reading while listening to the audio version might make it more manageable. Take your time to truly delve into the Gothic horror literature that Edgar Allan Poe short stories create. 

9. Morella

He was his own father type of beat

Do you ever want to read something deeply disturbing? A tale that will make you unsettled in your very bones? The one that will leave you confused, worried, and scared? Because this story will most definitely scare you. It's profoundly unsettling and confusing in both the worst and best ways. It's just super weird, all in all.

The plot here is tense and strange in the best way possible. But the thing that will terrify you even more are the narrator's reactions. Or rather, the narrator's actions are just insane, which may or may not be intentional. For example, how does a person fail to notice that their wife is pregnant? And do they not talk to other people because someone would wonder what's happening in that household.

8. The Gold Bug

We do like a gold rush, gold rush

How do you feel about puzzles and mysteries? Could you spend hours finding cryptic messages? While you might not end up cracking the hidden code, the characters in the story certainly do. Alongside some other Edgar Allan Poe books, this tale is a big reason the mystery genre came about. Without him and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we might not have the mysteries we have today.

And while Taylor Swift might not like a gold rush, the characters in this story certainly do. Mysterious bugs, hidden treasures, dead pirates - the whole package is there. This story will grip you with its mysteries, so be ready for some chill-inducing imagery. After all, Edgar Allan Poe is the grandfather of mysteries and horror for a good reason.

7. The Pit and the Pendulum

Rats are, in fact, some good bois

Picture this: you are proclaimed guilty by the Spanish Inquisition. Doesn't matter what you've done - it's the Spanish Inquisition, and it's not like they cared. Now, you get the exclusive, state-of-the-art torture experience! This includes fear for your life, not knowing precisely in which brutal way it'll end. The Inquisition gets: sadistic satisfaction, we guess. How exciting (in the worst way)!

"The Pit and the Pendulum" ran so the "Saw" franchise could… well, run as well. While you might find the torture mechanics overdone, they still appeared here first. It's incredibly mind-breaking to see how some literary tropes came to life and evolved later on. If you want to see where the pendulum saw originated from, this is the macabre story for you!

6. Ligeia

Simping over creepy ladies is in, folks!

Before we begin with this story, we need to establish something vital. How do you feel about Morticia and Gomez Addams? Because if you admire and envy their love for each other, you might love this story. Or you might hate it. More specifically, you might hate it while the story progresses but love the end. 

Now, we won't spoil anything, but let's just say that the love for the narrator's wife is there. The love of the supernatural is present as well. Besides, Ligeia is a very Morticia-esque character, or rather, Morticia is a Ligeia-esque character. Either way, if you want to read a story where the main character simps for his supernatural-adjacent lover, "Ligeia" is a perfect choice.

5. The Masque of the Red Death

Plague kills the bourgeoisie

Have you ever feared dying from a gruesome disease? Given that COVID exists, we're gonna guess you did. Follow-up question: have you ever wished that people would ignore its existence to party? We're gonna guess that the answer to that question is also yes. Luckily, we have a topical story for you!

We love seeing 19th-century writers describe the world around them and show how little some things change. And by love, we mean to say that it fills us with unspeakable rage. But, at least stories like "The Masque of the Red Death" showcase some karma at work. Turns out, partying the world's problems away doesn't work! Who would've guessed?

4. The Fall of the House of Usher 

TL;DR house go down because his mental health go down

You know those stories where your English teacher loses their mind because the surroundings are used to show a character's mental state? This is one of these! Oh, and the official terminology for that is "Objective correlative," if those things interest you. But if an English teacher left a sour taste in your mouth, and that's why you might want to skip this story, we urge you to give it another chance.

You might even find it interesting to see how the mansion's state correlates to the characters' feelings. And, in defense of objective correlatives, look around your room and take in how tidy/messy it is. Now, compare it to the current state of your mental health: there is, objectively, some correlation (pun intended).

3. The Cask of Amontillado

Don't try this at home, but if you do, let us know how it went

Have you ever hated a person? Have you ever hated a person so much that a white-hot rage comes over you every time they're mentioned? Are you looking for a revenge fantasy you could get lost in? If that's the case, we have a story for you! Although, for moral and legal reasons, we advise against following in the main character's footprints.

Montresor, our protagonist, is one of the OG revenge baddies in horror. He and Frankenstein's monster are somewhere sipping chai and spilling the tea about their sworn enemies. Although Montresor is far more… Let's say, "imaginative" regarding revenge methods. And he has a cruelty bonus! If you want to root for someone while he's doing the most gruesome things imaginable, this is the story for you!

2. The Black Cat

Hehehe, supernatural kitty go brrr

If you're a cat lover, this brilliant short story might weigh on you heavily. We also need to put a trigger warning for animal abuse. Although, given that this is a Gothic horror literature story, we're unsure whether the animals were actually harmed or if they transcend all mortal pain. But that's the beauty of literary analysis. As long as you have an opinion on the work you've read, it's a form of analysis.

If you're a cat hater, well… You might enjoy this. Although, please seek therapy if you do. Actually, please seek therapy if you like horror in general. This isn't an insult, but you probably need it. Something is wrong with us, who like revenge-seeking supernatural cats and watching people lose their minds.

1. Tell-Tale Heart

Imagine "Tell-Tale Heart," but instead of a heartbeat, Nicki Minaj's "Superbass" plays… would be neat

This is by far the most famous of Edgar Allan Poe Poe short stories and the classic of American gothic fiction. Most of them are written in long, winding sentences typical of the 19th century. This story, however, is all about short sentences to simulate the narrator's madness. Because of this, "Tell-Tale Heart" is easy to read for contemporary audiences.

The narrator begins by telling us how he is definitely not insane at all. And he can prove it, of course! And so he begins his gruesome tale. From time to time, he interjects to really hammer in the fact that he is perfectly sane. Never mind that he is describing most out-of-the-pocket things a person could do. That's all completely normal!

Some of the greatest horror stories and tropes emerged from Poe's mind. There's nothing like picking up classic American literature and accidentally stumbling into a well-known trope. Sometimes, the trope originated from there, making the experience much better. When picking up Poe's top ten horror stories, that's guaranteed!

Have you already read some of these short stories? Which one is your favorite?

Cover photo: personal archive



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