I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I flipped to the first page (at the back!) of this book. While I’ve read comics and graphic novels, this was the first manga I have ever picked up. And quite frankly, other than knowing that manga was a popular style of comic, I had no idea what I was in for.
Thankfully, my introduction to manga was a brilliant one. I love classic literature to begin with, and Poe is a particular favourite of mine. I finished a re-read of his complete works only a few months ago, so I was delighted to see this adaptation.
Delighted, and somewhat concerned. All book lovers will be familiar with that tickle of apprehension at the words “adaptation of the classic tale…” None of us want our favourite works sullied by terrible adaptations.
Frankly, I wish these publishers would extend their available library of manga classics, because “The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe” was brilliant. There are several stories in the volume, illustrated (spectacularly!) by separate artists but with similar enough styles to lend a cohesive vision and flow to the overall work. The attention to detail in every single graphic is stunning, and they have managed to encapsulate the creepy, mysterious imaginarium of Poe to fantastic effect. I was even happier when I realized that a couple of the stories that have been selected for graphic adaptation are my favourites from Poe’s oeuvre. This volume contains The Raven; The Cask of Amontillado; The Fall of the House of Usher; and The Tell-Tale Heart; and The Masque of the Red Death. Unbelievably, the artwork somehow manages to capture exactly what I think the scene or the character or the tone of the story should look like, and while I have no idea how they managed it, I applaud the artists!
As an adult, I think this manga is brilliant. As a teenager, I would have thought it mind-blowing. Given how visually-oriented teenagers and young adults are, and how difficult it can be trying to convince them that books are worth the time required to read them, a graphic adaptation of classic literature is a great idea. I really wish these had been around when I was younger, and I seriously encourage people of all ages to have a look at manga classic literature adaptations: they are an excellent gateway to literature (and such pretty pictures, too!). I am honestly considering buying myself a hard copy of this volume, and maybe a couple of others because a) they are just gorgeous, and b) maybe I can convince more people to give classic lit a go if they’re introduced to it in this format first?
Excellent read, people!!
Note: I did receive a review copy of this book through Netgalley, but as with all my reviews, the provenance of a title has absolutely no effect on my opinion of that book.
Photo credits: The photos in this review are screen shots of the cover sections for several of the stories, and representative of how excellent the artwork is throughout.
Categories: Classic Literature