“The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe is a truly scary story – and gruesome, too. I shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve read other short stories by Poe – but even for a Poe story, it was shocking. At the beginning, the narrator describes the story he’s going to tell as a “series of mere household events.” This could perhaps be the epitome of understatement.
One of the brilliant aspects of the story revolves around the title and the role of the black cats. I kept waiting for the cats to speak like Linda Blair in The Exorcist or to at least spin their heads all the way around. For the most part, the cats just remained cats – with only a slight implication that they may have more than just feline ambitions in their relationship with their master (the narrator). This makes the actions of the narrator that much more surprising and shocking…and just downright scary.
With this kind of story, it’s difficult to say too much without giving away the best (or scariest) parts. I still consider “The Cask of Amontillado” my favorite Poe story and from a literary standpoint, it probably outranks “The Black Cat”; however, “The Black Cat” has become a new Halloween favorite.