“There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.” Edgar Allan Poe wrote the passage above to describe the interior décor of Prince Prospero’s castle in “The Masque of the Red Death,” but he might just as easily have written it to describe the contents of this book. Its nineteen stories abound with characters—among them gibbering madmen, ominous doppelgängers, walled-up victims, and living-dead corpses—whose experiences are colored by the emotional responses Poe hoped to evoke. Consider, if you will, the following tales of terror and madness: The Fall of the House of Usher. The melancholy House of Usher was a crumbling pile whose sad decline was but a mirror of its family’s psychic state. The Masque of the Red Death. The pestilence came like a thief in the night, and Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. The Tell-Tale Heart. The murderer protested that he wasn’t mad. His gruesome crime proved otherwise. The Black Cat. Murder will out, as a consequence of what’s been walled in. The Premature Burial. There are certain themes of which the interest is all absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction. Or are they? The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. A mesmeric trance forestalled the worst ravages of the patient’s death—but it could do so only for so long. The Cask of Amontillado. The unthinkable fate that awaited Fortunato in the nitre-crusted catacombs beneath the river’s bed only proved that he was the most ill-named of victims. Hop-Frog. The last jest of the man in motley was hideous—and truly no laughing matter. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. A stowaway’s lot is never an easy one, especially when shipwreck, cannibalism, and the imminent threat of death shape it.