Edgar Allan Poe's deliciously creepy storybook app

This animated and interactive collection features four of the writer's stories and poems. It's a feast for the senses, but missing key elements.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
Draw the curtains and turn out the lights for some dark and spooky tales from Edgar Allan Poe, shown here on the iPad version of iPoe for iOS.
Draw the curtains and turn out the lights for some dark and spooky tales from Edgar Allan Poe, shown here on the iPad version of iPoe for iOS. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Forget Stephen King; if you like the macabre, you gotta go Poe.

iPoe for iOS brings to creepy, illustrated life four of Edgar Allan Poe's works.

As with Alice for iPad and other famous literary works given the app treatment, iPoe transforms the author's text into lavishly illustrated pages enhanced with music, animation, and interactive touches.

The app comes with four tales: "Annabel Lee," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Oval Portrait," and "The Tell-Tale Heart." You also get a brief biography of the author.

Needless to say, there are some key works missing here, including "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." But the most egregious omission is "The Raven," without a doubt Poe's most famous poem. A collection without this beloved title? Nevermore!

Perhaps developer Creatividad will add one or more of these in a future update. In the meantime, what's here is good -- very good.

In each of the four stories, you hear a moody, suspenseful soundtrack while you flip the pages, many of which feature some kind of animation and/or movable element.

In "The Tell-Tale Heart," for example, there's one page where the text is dark except for the area underneath a beam of light ("a very, very little crevice in the lantern"), which you move around the page with your finger. The effect is much like tracing the words in a book with a flashlight.

And in "Annabel Lee," we first meet the eponymous character via an animated frame, her long hair and tattered dress fluttering in an ocean breeze.

iPoe's pages are beautifully illustrated, and I especially like the haunting, rapturous musical accompaniments.

On the other hand, once the novelty of the music wears off, you may decide you prefer to read in peace -- but the app offers no way to mute or disable the soundtracks.

What's more, it lacks a bookmark option -- not a huge deal given the relatively short length of some of these tales ("Annabel Lee" is all of six pages), but iPoe fails to remember where you left off. If you're in the middle of, say, "The Masque of the Red Death," and you switch to Poe's biography, you'll find yourself back at the start when you return to the former.

Those gripes aside, iPoe offers a unique way to enjoy a smattering of Edgar Allan Poe's works. Normally $3.99, it's currently on sale for 99 cents -- and worth every penny for lovers of classic literature, creepy stories, and animated storybooks. This universal app is available for both iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad.