THE BLACK CAT AND THE GHOUL
By Edgar Allan Poe & Keith Gouveia
(Coscom Entertainment 2011; 114 pgs. Pb)
When I was asked to review THE BLACK CAT AND THE GHOUL, a mash-up by Edgar Allan Poe and Keith Gouveia I was a little leery. I've never really been interested in mash-ups so I had never read one before. How do you really improve on the original? Especially when we're talking Poe's "The Black Cat"? That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with Keith Gouveia's treatment of the story. Gouveia makes it clear in his intro that he's a huge fan of Poe and his writing shows his respect for the author, as well.
Keith Gouveia begins his story by keeping Poe's "The Black Cat" completely intact, beginning to end. What Gouveia does is continue the story from the perspective of the man, John, as he sits in a cell waiting for his execution for the murder of his wife. The night before he is visited by Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld and a bargain is struck. John will continue to walk the earth delivering souls to Pluto in hell. The deal turns out to be not quite what John thought and he is guided by the very same cat that he blames for his current predicament.
Included in the novella is the poem "Cemetery" an original work by Keith Gouveia, as well as its inspiration, Poe's "The City in the Sea". The book also contains Poe's "The Telltale Heart" and an original short story by Gouveia entitled "Broken" about what happens to a man after he loses his wife in a tragic accident.
I thoroughly enjoyed THE BLACK CAT AND THE GHOUL. Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poems are very dark and depressing in their mood and tone and Keith Gouveia manages to capture those same dark qualities perfectly and quite seamlessly. And he does so without altering the original character of John or his self-absorbed nature. The original works "Cemetery" and "Broken" are wonderful homages to a brilliant artist and Gouveia's respect and admiration are apparent. This is a definite get, even if you've been iffy about the mash-ups.