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Edgar Allan Poe (The Pit and the Pendulum and Other Macabre Tales) [Unabridged]

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Customer Reviews

A superb reading

I don’t often listen to audiobooks. I hate abridged content with a vengeance and I find that narrators want to showcase themselves and not the story. Not so with this audiobook.

And Poe – goodness, that’s hallowed ground. Poe is one of my favourite authors and, over one hundred and fifty years after his death, his style of writing can easily come across as hammy and pseudo-gothic in the wrong hands.

Add to that the choice of narrator – David Soul? Surely he’s a bit, well, lightweight?

My misgivings were entirely misplaced. Soul is the perfect narrator. I’m going to go out on a limb, too. If, like me, you were entranced by James Mason’s rendition of The Tell-Tale Heart, there’s a real worry that nothing will come close. But not only does Soul come close, in my book he entirely surpasses Mason. Soul’s voice may not be as distinctive as Mason’s but the reading is all the better for it – and it’s every bit as intense and expressive. Immediately after listening to Soul, I went back to the Mason recording and was surprised at how many places his reading is misjudged. Soul manages to hold back, just the right amount – and yet squeezes from each line exactly the right level of delivery. He does exactly what a great storyteller should do: fade just enough into the background so that his voice creates the pictures in your mind. He’s showcasing Poe, not himself. Each tale is a superb reading from end to end.

Each of the stories is delivered with equal skill: The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar and Hop-Frog.

Soul’s narration is underpinned by excellent music and sound effects. Director Barnaby Edwards has been responsible for plenty of full-cast audio plays; this experience shows when bringing into the narrative elements which don’t strictly belong there. Sound effects and music are there to support the narrator, not to overpower him. Some of this stuff is very subtly done – a wonderful experience when wearing headphones in the dark.

Clearly, this work has been directed by someone who isn’t just out to cash in on Poe: he understands his work and respects it thoroughly. It’s as much a labour of love as it is a commercial venture.

If you love Poe do take some time to seek out this superb – and possibly definitive – retelling of some of Poe’s best tales. You won’t be disappointed. (If you love horror, you’ll also be pleased to note that Textbook Stuff has also released titles by MR James, Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker.)


Born: 28 August 1943 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

David Soul will always be remembered as half of television's hip '70s cop duo Starsky & Hutch, but he actually started his professional career as a folksinger. Before the weekly series made him and co-star Paul Michael Glaser international stars, Soul opened shows for such notables as Frank Zappa, Jay & the Americans, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, the Byrds, and the Lovin' Spoonful. He picked up an interest in folk music about the same time that he played a guitar for the first time, while living...
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Edgar Allan Poe (The Pit and the Pendulum and Other Macabre Tales) [Unabridged], David Soul
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  • £9.99
  • Genres: Spoken Word, Music
  • Released: 01 August 2010

Customer Ratings