The Father of the American Horror Story Edgar Allan Poe Lives on in The Maddening

The Father of the American Horror Story Edgar Allan Poe Lives on in The Maddening
“Even 175 years after his death, there is still an obsession with Edgar Allan Poe and the dark and macabre horror of his tales,” says author Paul Thaler. “The Maddening is a story that inhabits the metaphysical space between one’s dreams and nightmares and reimagines Poe as is a psychopathic serial killer. Readers are plunged into the darkness and drawn to a world of horrific crime, murder, and revenge from the safety of their armchairs.”
The Maddening by Paul Thaler is a dark psychological thriller set to end all thrillers, based on three main characters: a psychopathic serial killer who fashions himself after Edgar Allan Poe; the disgraced ex-cop-turned-crime-writer who pursues him; and a deeply traumatized young woman who experiences horrific acts of violence at the hands of the madman. From the very first page, readers are plunged into a world of fear and suspense as the killer strikes again and again,

Poe created both the modern horror story and the model for super sleuths, such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, and made his stories into timeless literature. Writing short stories for the magazines of his day, Poe took the horror and mystery forms and “made literature of them.” After an “accident” that takes his parents’ lives, The Maddening’s young Daemon Ultrecht escapes into the nightmarish stories of Edgar Allan Poe. His obsession intensifies, inking his body with the inhabitants from his “mentor’s” macabre tales—until he becomes “Poe,” a psychotic killer, penning his own terrifying stories born from the ashes of his murderous deeds.

The first victim of “Poe” is 21-year-old Clara Knox, an “Irish beauty” who survives his sadistic attack, a brutality that scars her body but inflicts even deeper psychological wounds. Driven by rage and revenge, she seeks to destroy the monster that has shattered her life, seducing PJ Bones into her twisted plan. The disgraced former NYPD detective turned best-selling author finds himself helpless against Clara’s dive into madness and then her betrayal. The lives of all three converge in chilling fashion as they plunge headlong into The Maddening, where there is no escape from the looming destiny that awaits them.

The connections to Edgar Allen Poe permeate this thriller. The madman “Poe” creates a home in the author’s Gothic imaginings with his tattooed body as a surreal reflection of his malevolent existence. Detective PJ Bones is yet another refraction of the renowned author, besieged by alcohol and his personal demons, while readers will compare the lovely Clara Knox to Poe’s own obsessive yearnings with the women in his life, also beautiful, desirous, and ultimately doomed.

American audiences continue to be drawn to the underlying doom and pessimism of Poe’s work finding it compelling and understandable. Readers of The Maddening are given a front row seat to “Unrealism”: having a distinct element that separates them from the terror they are experiencing and reality, allowing for distance and safety from the events.

One reason we consume horror is to experience stimulation. Exposure to terrifying acts, or even the anticipation of those acts, can stimulate us — both mentally and physically,” explains Thaler. “The biochemical inside our bodies also changes when we consume horror. Fright can trigger the release of adrenaline, resulting in heightened sensations and surging energy.”

Some research indicates that gender and age also appear to matter in seeking out horror. One survey found that, on average, younger individuals tend to be more attracted to this scary genre; men are more likely to be fans of horror than women; and women versus men may like different aspects of a horror experience. That is, women may enjoy a horror movie more when it offers a happy ending (e.g., the evil entity ends up destroyed), whereas men may enjoy a horror movie more when it is loaded with intensely terrifying acts. “Horror entrainment may help us (safely) satisfy our curiosity about the dark side of the human psyche. After all, in real life, we might not have the opportunity to get to know a Hannibal Lecter or the Boston Strangler,” adds Thaler. “As an inherently curious species, many are fascinated by what our own kind is capable of. Observing storylines in which characters must confront the worst parts of themselves serves as a pseudo character study of the darkest parts of the human condition.“ The Maddening is available at leading bookstores or at in hardcover for $24.99 or paperback at $16.19, or free with an audio trial at The Maddening: 9781958842089: Thaler, Paul: Books

About the Author:

Paul Thaler is a professor at Adelphi University, and as a former journalist he is no stranger to crime stories having written: The Watchful Eye: American Justice in the Age of Television Trial; The Spectacle: Media and Making of the OJ Simpson Story; and Bronxland, his debut novel. He has been an on-air commentator on numerous national television and radio programs, including Nightline, Court TV, CBS News, the BBC, and National Public Radio.

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