Hop Frog (1850)
Well everyone as you can tell 2012 hasn’t been the best year for me getting the horror novel reviews out. Last year I read and reviewed almost 75 novels. This year … waaaay less. If only I could get paid for writing and running this site everything would be good in the world!! So I’ve been looking for someone to contribute some horror novel reviews. And you know me, not just anyone would be good enough to write for anythinghorror.com!! But I feel like I’ve found a good fit. His name is Jarrod and here’s what he has to say about himself:
I love the dark, the twisted and the unexpected. I’m a husband, a professional (love that corporate America), a father (3 crazy boys), a competitive cyclist and a dedicated fan of horror and the macabre! I take everything at face value…tell it like it is and I don’t apologize for it. Honesty and realism rule the day! Period.
Jarrod’s first review is a classic: Poe’s HOP FROG. If you haven’t read this one before then you’re in for a treat!! Enjoy, and please help me welcome Jarrod to our twisted little family!!
We, as true and discriminating horror fans, can agree that Edgar Allan Poe was a genius. Yes, a touch crazy and misguided but then, if he wasn’t, he would not have blessed us with his creative and macabre library of work. Poe is an icon of horror. One of the most recognized authors of our time and the figurative cornerstone in the foundation of horror and mystery writing. I contend that Poe was an artist. He uses our minds as his canvas as he spews forth malice, terror and sadness in the form of well-selected and effective prose.
I personally have read the complete works of Poe and many of us, through various educational systems and methods have had the privilege of being exposed to his more famous poems and tales. Do these jog your memory? THE RAVEN. MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, THE TELL-TALE HEART. THE BLACK CAT. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. There are many more that have achieved mainstream notoriety and are classics in the annals of late 19th century horror. But what about his less-popular, infrequently published but equally glorious works? Many times, the obscure and somewhat lesser-known bodies of work from famous scribes, are equal to if not more insightful and raw than the famous works.
I have always been fascinated by Poe. Even from a young age I was eating up as much Poe and Lovecraft that I could. And being raised in an extremely conservative Christian household, this was difficult. But, it was well worth it as I found Poe and his transcribed-to-page imagination to be an escape from the suppression of religion and the awkwardness of adolescence. He truly was gifted as a writer…technically and creatively. He was intelligent and driven identified by his stints at the University of Virginia and West Point. Yet he, the man behind the black cover of the macabre and probing tales, was emotionally tortured, misaligned and misunderstood. His dark and struggling persona coupled with his proficiency and drive as a writer allowed him to expunge his dark thoughts, desires and feelings through the quill to the parchment. So, whilst most of us are familiar with the famous works of Poe, I wanted to get the marrow out of the bone so to speak and expose some of his lesser-known but equally tragic works.
I will start this journey into the hidden chambers of Poe with a terrific tale, and one of my favorites, authored in 1850: HOP FROG.
Despite the length of the story, which is fairly short, its depth and range is staggering. The story is not hurried and develops masterfully. Hop Frog is a David and Goliath tale of sorts. Not literally, but certainly by theme comparison. The story has an undercurrent of the poor against the rich…the little against the big or the weak against the strong. This story is genius as it demonstrates how size, power and riches are no match for intellect and laser-guided motivation no matter the physical characteristics or social level.
Imagine if you will a jester; but, not just any jester. A crippled dwarf bearing the nickname ´Hop Frog´. This Jester, who´s appearance is given away by his name, happens to be the prized possession of the King in the story. Hop Frog is a possession…one to be abused, flaunted and kept around to make the king feel better about himself. The king is cruel and demeaning and relishes in the abuse and mockery he inflicts upon Hop Frog. Interestingly, the king fancies himself a joker and he is always looking to trick and/or impress his court and subjects with practical jokes and other musings. The relationship between the king and Hop Frog is interesting…love/hate…symbiotic but not complimentary. As the story progresses, the king’s vanity gets the best of him as he matches wits with Hop Frog during a costume party. The masquerade party, with a large audience of his subjects, is the climax of the tale with the king enlisting Hop Frog as an accomplice in his scheme to execute a practical joke of grand proportions for his guests. Hop Frog does what Hop Frog does best: organizes humorous events and performances. In this case, the King gets more than he bargained for in using Hop Frog as his accomplice. The “joke” garners horrific and triumphant results.
Because the story is short, I cannot provide any more plot details for fear of divulging too much. So, give it a read. You will marvel at the complexity and patience in which Poe weaves this tale of complex revenge.
You can read HOP FROG in its entirety here.
Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains