The Tell-Tale Heart is a significant piece of work in the annals of American literature as well as one of the most inspirational stories in my own life as a young fan. First published in 1843, unless you live under a rock (or beneath the floor boards), this eerie short story by Edgar Allen Poe is certain to leave a memorable impression.
The story has been represented through countless adaptations on radio, television and film, but the true essence of the chill must be extracted from the pages. To enhance the classic words of Poe, the graphic novel adaptation of The Tell-Tale Heart published by Stone Arch Books (a Capstone Imprint) in 2013 is a wonderful example of a unique interpretation with a dedication to the original.
The talented combination of writer Benjamin Harper and illustrator Dennis Calero has provided readers with a new look at an old story that will impress the dedicated fan. The story remains the same. We have an unreliable narrator who tries to convince the reader of his sanity. As we are drawn deeper into the tale, readers are left with little doubt that the character is indeed mad.
But if you’re like me, you can’t help but feel a little sorry for the narrator. The guy truly believes there is real danger in the old man’s “Evil Eye” and something must be done before it drives him crazy. Well, spoiler alert, it’s too late. But for us same people -wink, wink – it is the old man’s eye that nearly steals the spotlight. As Poe tiptoes through the narrator’s thoughts, it is the old man’s eye that stirs our curiosity. We know the guy is a loon, but we don’t know what he sees as an evil eye BECAUSE he’s a loon.
And this is where Harper and Calero step in. The eye is not described as evil. It is described as “horrible.” It is “a repulsive pale blue eye with a milky film over it.” Finally! We have a description of what the narrator considers as evil! Then when we see the illustrations, we get it even more. The dark shadowy images throughout the book are shaken by the ghastly blue hue of the one eye. We all know that the old man is not evil and that he is just a victim. But we finally have a definition of what evil looks like to a madman.
Capstone Publishing provides valuable books for young readers. The Tell-Tale Heart is only one sample of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and other classic authors they chose to print. It even has classroom discussion questions in the back. This book doesn’t take away from the original work while still providing insightful perceptions readers may find just as fascinating. For that reason alone, it has found a place on my bookshelf.