15 Best Books by Edgar Allan Poe: Dark and Horror-Filled Literature

Discover the best books by Edgar Allan Poe with our in-depth guide that explores the very best published works from this world-renowned author of mystery fiction.

It’s impossible to name just one of the best Edgar Allan Poe books. There are many great works to choose from, all with mysterious, dark, and otherworldly fiction. Poe was also an accomplished poet, but he was best known for his mystery, detective, and crime fiction as mainstream literary genres in the United States. 

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

Edgar Allan Poe

Poe’s father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died of tuberculosis when he was only two, familiarizing the author with death from an early age. He excelled in his language and literature studies at school and self-published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, in 1827. In 1841, he wrote The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is considered the first modern detective story. 

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore. His condition never improved, so he was unable to explain what happened to him and why he was wearing clothes that were not his own. As such, Poe left behind perhaps his biggest mystery, that of his end.

Best Books by Edgar Allan Poe

1. The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart
“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a gripping short story with an unknown narrator

“The Tell-Tale Heart,” published in 1843, is a gem of classic literature reflecting Poe’s ability to construct psychological thriller and gothic literature as beloved genres. The story unfolds as the unnamed narrator tries to convince the reader of his sanity while describing the murder he committed, insisting on the calculated manner in which he proceeded.

“If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/09/2024 05:05 pm GMT

2. The Fall Of The House Of Usher

The Fall Of The House Of Usher
“The Fall of the House of Usher,” was adapted to a Netflix series in 2023

“The Fall of the House of Usher,” written in 1839, explores themes of familial decay and madness and is a striking example of Poe’s ability to conjure vivid imagery and atmospheric tension. As the narrator navigates the mysterious afflictions befalling the Usher siblings, Roderick and Madeline, the mundane gives way to the supernatural.

“His heart is a suspended lute; As soon as you touch it, it resonates.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 08:21 am GMT

3. The Raven

Raven
“The Raven” was published in 1845

“The Raven,” is perhaps Poe’s most famous work and provides the image most associated with the author. “The Raven” is a narrative poem that follows a grieving lover haunted by a talking raven. As in many other of Poe’s works, madness, loss, and masterful use of lyricism provide a treat for any reader. 

“But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 07:37 pm GMT

4. The Cask Of Amontillado

The Cask Of Amontillado
“The Cask of Amontillado” was first published in an issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book

“The Cask of Amontillado,” 1846, revolves around revenge and murder, showcasing Poe’s ability to build and maintain suspense with each line. The story follows Montresor, who lures his friend Fortunato into the depths of his catacombs with the promise of rare Amontillado wine, only to exact his revenge for a perceived insult. 

“I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/09/2024 04:01 pm GMT

5. The Masque Of The Red Death

The Masque Of The Red Death
“The Masque of the Red Death” is a short story about a Prince running from a plague

“The Masque of the Red Death,” published in 1842, is an allegorical tale of Prince Prospero’s attempts to escape a deadly plague by isolating himself and his courtiers in a castle. The plague inevitably finds its way inside, leaving no survivors. The story explores themes of mortality, the futility of escaping death, and fate’s inevitability. 

“And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/09/2024 04:45 am GMT

6. The Murders In The Rue Morgue

The Murders In The Rue Morgue
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” has been said to be the prototype for novels like Sherlock Holmes

Written in 1841, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” has Poe creating a web of mystery and pioneering detective fiction. It’s a short story that opens with a long explanation of ratiocination. The story follows an investigator, Auguste Dupin, who demonstrates his incredible powers of deduction.

The story follows Dupin as he investigates a double murder of a mother and daughter. With tense plotlines and unexpected twists and turns, this detective story is perfect for lovers of true crime podcasts and heart-pounding thrillers.

“…and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 02:59 am GMT

7. The Pit And The Pendulum

The Pit And The Pendulum
“The Pit and the Pendulum” was published in 1842

In 1842’s “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Poe, the author who revolutionized horror as a genre, describes the harrowing experiences of an unnamed narrator, a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition sentenced to death. The narrator is thrown into a pitch-black pit only to be tortured by rats and the relentless descent of a razor-sharp pendulum. The story is a tour de force of psychological horror, vividly depicting the terror and resilience of the human spirit in the face of imminent doom. 

“- and with this observation there suddenly came over my spirit all the keen, collected calmness of despair. For the first time during many hours – or perhaps days – I thought.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Pit and the Pendulum”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 02:59 am GMT

8. Ligeia

Ligeia
“Ligeia” is one of Poe’s most famous Gothic tales

“Ligeia,” published in 1838, centers around the narrator’s love for a mysterious and enigmatic woman with knowledge of arcane subjects. Following Ligeia’s untimely death, the narrator marries another, only to be haunted by memories and the possibility of Ligeia’s return from the afterlife. The theme of loss returns in this masterful work by Edgar Allan Poe. 

“I loathed her with a hatred belonging more to demon than to man.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Ligeia”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 03:08 am GMT

9. William Wilson

William Wilson
“William Wilson” was published in 1839

Written in 1839, “William Wilson” describes the psychological turmoil of a man tormented by his doppelgänger. The evil twin follows the narrator, reflecting his moral failings. The story reads as an introspective journey, delving into identity, morality, and the consequences of one’s actions.

“In me didst thou exist – and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “William Wilson”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 03:09 am GMT

10. Metzengerstein

Metzengerstein
“Metzengerstein” is the first story by Edgar Allan Poe

Two warring noble families provide the context of “Metzengerstein,” 1832. The story follows an orphan raised in an aristocratic household, which some critics suggest might be an autobiographical commentary from the author. 

The story is told by an unknown narrator, who discusses a century-long rivalry between two families. As the young orphan obtains a large inheritance from the family fortune, his character changes, and readers follow along as young Frederick experiences power for the first time. Themes of guilt and the consequences of one’s actions dominate this story, with Poe’s conjuring of vengeance and destiny as an active supernatural force.

“These repeated insults were not to be endured by an imperious nobility. Such invitations became less cordial—less frequent—in time they ceased altogether.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Metzengerstein”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 03:10 am GMT

11. Berenice

Berenice
“Berenice” is a short horror story that touches on many taboo topics

In “Berenice,” completed in 1835, Poe tells the terrifying story of a man’s disturbing obsession with the teeth of his young cousin, Berenice. The man’s desire and obsession simultaneously intensify, leading to a grim conclusion.

It’s a violent and disturbing story that touches on themes of incest, murder, obsession and mental illness. Fans of horror fiction and stomach-churning gore will find this a fascinating read, but be warned – it’s an internally terrifying read.

“In the strange anomaly of my existence, feelings with me had never been of the heart, and my passions always were of the mind.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Berenice”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 03:14 am GMT

12. Morella

Morella
“Morella” is a 19th-century Gothic horror fiction

“Morella” is the story of a woman who tragically dies during childbirth, but there’s a twist. As the child begins to get older, she bears an undeniable resemblance to her mother. By her tenth birthday, she is identical to her mother, and the child’s father brings her to be baptized to rid her of any evil. 

However, during the ceremony, the mother’s spirit returns to the child’s body, making for a haunting and terrifying story. Although the story has dark and disturbing themes, it’s a popular read that has even been adapted into a movie–The Haunting of Morella.

“The days have never been when thou couldst love me—but her whom in life thou didst abhor, in death thou shalt adore.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Morella”
Morella
$3.43


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 03:14 am GMT

13. The Black Cat

The Black Cat
“The Black Cat” was first published in an edition of The Saturday Evening Post

The narrator of “The Black Cat” is consumed by guilt. This short story by Poe was published in 1843. In the story, the narrator has a strong affinity for pets until he uncontrollably begins abusing them. The unknown narrator describes his favorite pet, a black cat, who bites him one evening, so the narrator violently punishes and kills the cat in an act of vengeance. 

The narrator loses control and begins carrying out violent acts of murder on more animals and, eventually, his wife. However, the narrator becomes consumed with guilt, which drives him into dark madness. Remorse drives the narrator to delusion and the darkest corners of man’s psyche in a grim progression masterfully penned by Poe.

“The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fiber of my frame.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Black Cat”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 04:18 am GMT

14. Eleonora

Eleonora
“Eleonora” was first published in the literary annual The Gift

Not all of Poe’s love stories are grim. “Eleonora,” written in 1842, tackles resurrection and not haunting. Readers follow along as the narrator describes falling in love with Eleonora, who tragically dies.

However, after Eleonara’s death, the narrator leaves the town and marries a new lover. Eleonora’s ghost visits the narrator from beyond the grave to grant her blessings and look fondly at her ex-lover’s new life. It’s a melancholic story of profound love and undying devotion. Like most of Poe’s short stories, an unknown narrator describes the events that take place. 

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Eleonora”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 11:12 pm GMT

15. The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar

The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar
“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” is a short story full of suspense and horror

In 1845’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” Poe crosses the line between life and death. The story revolves around premature death as a mesmerist attempts to disturb nature with his scientific curiosity. 

The plot revolves around a mesmerist who experiments with a dying man named M. Valdemar. The mesmerist hypnotizes the man at the moment of death to see if he can suspend the decomposition process. The story explores themes of death, life, and scientific experimentation while describing some truly gruesome events.

“It remained to be seen … to what extent, or for how long a period, the encroachments of Death might be arrested by the process.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 04:05 am GMT

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best authors like Agatha Christie!

Author

  • Meet Rachael, the editor at Become a Writer Today. With years of experience in the field, she is passionate about language and dedicated to producing high-quality content that engages and informs readers. When she's not editing or writing, you can find her exploring the great outdoors, finding inspiration for her next project.