I have read all of the thirteen tales in Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Mystery and Terror. The first tale, The Sphinx, had somewhat of an O. Henry ending. The narrator was terrified by something that merely turned out to be an exotic insect seen at an odd perspective that magnified it. But most of the tales do, indeed, deal with terror and horror.
I suppose it's the anticipation of horror that drives most of these stories. In most cases, the ending isn't as gripping as the lead-up. But four stories did fall into the traditional story arc: Hopfrog, The Black Cat (Poe seems to delight in tales where the narrator does something evil and then gives himself away), William Wilson, and The Pit and the Pendulum, which I thought was his best. Of course, maybe Poe has just been growing on me, story by story.
There was a delightful surprise in this little book, though -- Some Words with a Mummy. I was expecting a chilling encounter replete with grizzly details. Instead, a group of scientists unwrap a mummy (after getting museum permission), and find it is still alive. It hasn't gone through the usual embalming process; instead, a different process left it for hundreds of years in suspended animation. Immediately the British scientists and the Mummy get into a competitive discussion as to which culture has achieved the most astounding accomplishments. This is truly a funny tale. Who knew that Poe had a sense of humor? I don't know if he every wrote another funny tale like that one. The story ends with the narrator seeking this special method of preservation and future awakening in order to escape his nagging wife!
So, thank you, Carrie, for the challenge to read a book I hadn't read before and had always meant to read. I can't say I've become a Poe devotee, but I do admire his use of language and his ability to create tension and build suspense. And I was pleased to learn that behind the doleful expression one sees in his photographs there lurked a sense of humor.
Poe joking. Imagine that!