iPoe Challenge review: A Descent into the Maelström

Feeling guilty that I’ve overlooked my iPoe Reading Challenge all summer, and impressed by the remarkable progress that Kristen has made on her own Poe Fridays reading project (good job Kristen!), I set about getting myself back on track and reacquainting myself with the Gothic master, with the long overdue reading of a Poe short.

As I was planning on spending my time with Poe during a half hour train journey, I chose to read A Descent into the Maelström (1841), which, as anyone who has read the story would know, has absolutely nothing to do with trains (I’m not even sure there were that many trains in 1841 was there?). Instead the story is in tribute to the infamous Lofoten Maelström (also known as Moskstraumen) in which a man recounts how he survived the gargantuan whirlpool during one fateful fishing trip.

As a whole A Descent into the Maelström is a fine tale, worthy of any from the storytelling master. The beginning of the story if I’m being honest is a little on the dreary side, because it all becomes a bit too science-y too soon, as Mr. Poe shows off his researched knowledge of whirlpools. If one sticks with it though, one discovers that Edgar’s display of scientific ‘plumage’ doesn’t last that long (to be fair it’s necessary in order to set the scene), and the story gets on the rails of the fast, the furious and the terrifying – Poe’s bread and butter!

All in all in then, not the best Edgar Allen Poe short I’ve ever read, but certainly not the worst either.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Notable Quote: “Presently our little boat gave herself a shake, just as a dog does in coming out of the water, and thus rid herself, in some measure, of the seas. I was now trying to get the better of the stupor that had come over me, and to collect my senses so as to see what was to be done, when I felt somebody grasp my arm. It was my elder brother, and my heart leaped for joy, for I had made sure that he was overboard –but the next moment all this joy was turned into horror –for he put his mouth close to my ear, and screamed out the word ‘Moskoe-strom!”

*This story was read as part of my iPoe Reading Challenge

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Thank you for the mention and the compliment … I have been enjoying my time with Poe but it’s been hard to stick with something almost every week.

    I haven’t read this one yet but it has the “overly sciency” thing in common with other stories. Poe loved to show off what he had learned on many subject though I’m not sure how accurate his information is on any of the topics.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      And thank you for saying thank you Kristen. Yeah I’m well versed in Poe’s ‘fetish’ for showing off how clever is he :). Then again a few of his science-based yarns were hoaxes, so I guess he had to qualify himself and look authentic.
      Anyway continued success
      Speak soon