Rarely do I approach reviews through the eyes of an educator. Part of why I started writing reviews was to have a space where I could discuss Young Adult books for enjoyment away from education. Even after leaving my career, I still try to steer clear of that lens when reviewing books.
Thank you to FlatIron Books and NetGalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.
However, I can’t ignore the enormous benefits to English classrooms when discussing His Hideous Heart, edited by Dahlia Adler (Q and A link from last week). With that in mind, through two of my favorite stories, I’m going to give what I found highly entertaining as a reader, and brilliantly beneficial as an educator without writing my own novel.
It was a fantastic structural and contextual addition to have the original works of Edgar Allan Poe in the second half of the book. For those who have some familiarity to, or are completely new to, Poe’s work, you have an easy guide to reference. For educators, this provides numerous variations and opportunities in which students can access both the original and reimagining of Poe’s work.
In the case of stories such as Night-Tide by Tessa Gratton, inspired by Poe’s poem, Annabel Lee, there is an additional opportunity for educators. Not only are there two version of the story, but the structural change of Poe’s poem to Gratton’s prose provides an excellent chance to discuss the impact of format on content.
On the flip side, readers will find Night-Tide one of the most inspired stories in His Hideous Heart. A soaring and heartbreaking tale of young love between Annabel and her girlfriend that was misunderstood and shamed.
Picking the summer after Annabel’s sickness and ultimate death, the narrator arrives with pulse quickening anticipation to see her love. Upon hearing the devastating news, we follow her as she longs for understanding and comfort in the stolen moments, whispered words and shared secrets from the past.
Poe has nothing on Tiffany Jackson. The Carnival is Jackson’s dark and twisty take on Poe’s gothic, vengeful The Cask of Amontillado. Fed up with Darrell’s bullying and filth laced words towards her family’s lineage, she mixes-up (quite literally) some revenge to shut him up.
The cacophony of sounds, the brilliance of colors and aromas of foods from the annual Carnival come to life throughout the story. It collides with the once cocky then slowly changing to palpable fear from in Darrel. While Cindy starts sticky sweet, pulling her prey in like a rattle snake and then going in for the kill.
Dahlia Adler set-out to make Poe’s work more accessible and relatable for today. Along with the authors involved, she accomplished that and much more. These stories are just two examples of what you will find throughout His Hideous Heart. Whether you are an educator or a reader (in the case of the former, I truly hope you are both), there is no shortage of highly charged, entertaining and masterful work being brought forth for all ages.