Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most beloved authors of all time. This American writer is known for his unique writing style and his macabre content.
Poe revolutionized the literary world, creating a style that authors are still attempting to replicate today.
Poe is also an incredibly versatile author, having produced poems, short stories, and novels.
His works tend to explore thought-provoking and transcendental themes, such as death, love, grief, and loss.
If you want to experience the gothic and horror-influenced writing of Edgar Allan Poe, here are some of the best stories from this writer.
The 8 Best Edgar Allan Poe Stories
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is a gothic narrative about decay and hidden secrets.
It is a superb horror story that is filled with unease and doom. Many people consider this story to be a masterclass in gothic writing.
In the story, an unnamed narrator receives a mysterious letter asking for help.
The narrator returns to the home of his close friend, named Roderick Usher.
The narrator begins to realize that his friend is acting increasingly erratic and unusual.
Roderick and his dying sister are the final members of the Usher family.
This home is an eerie mansion. It is filled with an uncomfortable atmosphere that makes it an unpleasant place to be.
The story explores the narrator’s unusual experiences in this creepy house.
- Gothic setting.
- A continued feeling of doom.
- It can be a slow read.
Themes: doom, mortality, madness.
If you appreciate detective narratives, then you will adore “The Purloined Letter”. This is one of the few detective stories that Poe created.
The book centers around the quest to find a stolen letter.
This letter contains sensitive information about a powerful individual.
The unnamed narrator must find this letter that was taken from the royal apartments.
This short story focuses on the themes of lies and deceit. It’s a great read if you enjoy detective stories with a unique twist.
- It’s great if you fancy something different.
- It’s less sophisticated than other Poe stories.
Themes: lies, deceit.
“The Black Cat” is a disturbing delve into the psyche of a violent and unstable individual.
This unnamed narrator treats his beloved cat poorly. However, he soon becomes haunted by his actions.
Guilt is the primary theme of this extraordinary short story. It highlights how guilt can manifest and haunt people.
Just bear in mind that “The Black Cat” contains some sensitive subject matters that some readers may not appreciate, particularly if they’re animal lovers.
- It is a great depiction of guilt.
- It’s not suitable for animal fans.
Themes: guilt, death, loss.
Up next, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is one of Poe’s most iconic pieces of writing.
This concise short story perfectly embodies some of the themes in which Poe was most interested.
Mortality and guilt are two of the story’s central themes.
This story is a psychological exploration of a narrator who is attempting to portray his sanity to the reader.
Despite this, the narrator continuously refers to a crime that he was involved in.
From underneath his floorboards, the narrator continues to hear an ominous beating.
- It’s one of Poe’s most famous pieces.
- It has a dark theme.
Themes: grief, insanity.
This sensational story follows Prince Prospero as he attempts to avoid a plague known as the Red Death.
Prospero wants to escape the plague by staying at an abbey. He soon hosts a lavish masquerade.
During this event, the personification of the Red Death begins to visit each of these guests.
Prospero is forced to confront death and mortality.
- The narrative is more relevant than ever.
- It’s a heavy read.
Themes: death, fear, selfishness, foolishness.
“The Imp of the Perverse” is a unique short story that begins with an essay. The focus of the story is on a self-destructive narrator.
This narrator represents The Imp of the Perverse, a common metaphor that is used to describe the desire to do the wrong thing in a situation.
This story is primarily concerned with self-destruction. The book also explores themes like obsession and anxiety.
“The Imp of the Perverse” is a fascinating examination of the human psyche, specifically the desire to self-sabotage.
- Interesting portal of human nature.
- Very self-reflective style.
Themes: self-sabotage, destruction, anxiety.
“Morella” is an extraordinary example of gothic writing.
In this short story, the narrator marries an amazing scholar named Morella who is interested in the theme of identity.
However, as Morealla begins to deteriorate, her husband fears death.
As you can imagine, death is a major theme in “Morella”. The story also showcases resurrection and the ability to survive beyond death.
“Morella” is a beautiful tale that embodies Poe’s amazing writing style.
- Beautiful writing.
- An interesting dive into death.
- It’s not as famous as other Poe stories.
Themes: death, resurrection.
Last but not least, “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” is a great example of satire.
In this short story, the narrator tells the reader about his close friend, Toby Dammit.
Dammit regularly repeats the phrase “never bet the devil your head”, hence the title of the story.
Dammit represents several vices, despite the narrator’s attempts at intervention.
However, Dammit makes a deadly deal with the Devil.
Through this story, Poe satirizes a popular philosophical movement of the time known as transcendentalism.
It specifically makes fun of the idea that every story must have a moral message. The story is a superb read if you want something intellectual and satirical.
- Clever satire.
- It may be too intellectual.
Themes: death, mortality.
Choosing the perfect Poe story can be tough, as there are just so many to choose from.
To ensure that you pick a story that is a suitable match for your literary tastes, here are some of the most important factors to consider:
Many of Poe’s books cover similar themes, such as death, loss, and madness.
Yet, each of his stories will have a slightly different focus. It’s important to choose a theme that suits your interests.
It can be a good idea to read a short synopsis of a Poe story before you dive into it.
The reason for this is that Poe’s narratives can be a little dark, often centering around serious and heavy themes.
These narratives may not be suitable for all readers.
Buying lots of different books can be expensive (find our guide to the top 10 Most Expensive Books here).
Though Poe’s works are regularly collected, some collection books will only contain a handful of stories.
As a result, you may need to buy multiple books if you wish to read all of Poe’s short stories.
To ensure that you aren’t spending too much money on your readings, you should consider the size of your budget for reading materials.
Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most celebrated writers of the 19th century.
Yet, his writing is still loved today by literary critics and casual fans alike.
If you want to experience the vibrant and distinctive writing style of Poe, these stories will give you a great taste of what this writer has to offer.
The good news is that many of these stories are found in collections.
As a result, you can read multiple stories by purchasing one book.
So feel free to read as many of Poe’s super stories as you want!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Famous For?
Poe is perhaps most famous for writing the striking short story known as “The Tell-Tale Heart”. In terms of his poetry, Poe is known for “The Raven”, which is a deep introspection into death and loss.
Is Poe Easy To Read?
Poe can be a tricky writer to read, as he has an unconventional style and he tends to tackle deep themes.
Yet, reading Poe’s works can be worth it if you want to experience the unique writing of this classic writer.