Title: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party Aired/Released: August 22 – November 7, 2016 Starring: Sean Persaud, Sinéad Persaud, Mary Kate Wiles Genre(s): Mystery, Comedy Run Time: 11 episodes and an epilogue My Rating: 9/10 My Summary:
In an attempt to impress his crush friend Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe decides to host a dinner party with the help of Lenore, the ghost who is haunting him. The guest list features many famous literary figures, ranging from Agatha Christie to Ernest Hemingway. The highlight of the evening is a roleplaying murder mystery game, but when an actual murder occurs, the various characters are forced to become allies and seek out the killer hidden among them before it is too late.
When I first stumbled upon this on Youtube after finishing The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (you can read a mini review I wrote for it here), I, the book and history nerd, couldn’t help but squeal (internally, mind you) in delight. A historical web series about famous authors and centered around a series of murders? I was already hooked.
So, what exactly does Poe Party have that makes it great? According to Edgar Allan Poe: “Comedy. Tragedy. Romance. Intrigue. Ravens.” But in addition to these elements, the series also boasts: literary puns, historical allusions, shocking plot twists, engaging characters, witty dialogue, well-developed character relationships, and of course, the murder mystery that starts out as a game but becomes all too real. (And there lies one of the few flaws of the series that I will cover later in this post.)
But first a little background: crowdfunded by a Kickstarter that exceeded its goal of $55,000 by raising $72,140, Poe Party was created and written by the Persaud siblings (who are also producers for Shipwrecked Comedy). (In addition to these duties, they play two of the main characters: Edgar Allan Poe and Lenore the Lady Ghost. Another fun fact: the two remaining Shipwrecked Comedy producers, Sarah Grace Hart and Mary Kate Wiles, play Emily Dickinson and Annabel Lee respectively.) If I’m being honest, such a budget amazes me. It took only a tiny fraction of the typical Hollywood multi-million dollar budget to create such a work that arguably could be called more original than most big-budget films found at the movie theater. (And it’s of equal length.) Which goes to show, money can’t guarantee quality.
I don’t think I can praise Poe Party enough. From watching this, I could tell it was a labor of love. Everyone involved poured their heart and soul into their roles and also clearly had a lot of fun. The end result was these loveable, or at the very least, sympathetic, characters. The costuming was amazing and perfectly fit the characters’ personalities. (A special shoutout to Lenore’s beautiful white dress!) The set perfectly matched the suspenseful atmosphere. (If it were a real house, I think I would actually enjoy living there if I had the chance.) The final reveal of who murdered the authors, along with several other victims, and the series’ resolution were immensely satisfying. (I like to think that I guessed correctly. Sort of.) The epilogue was a wonderfully sweet ending to it all.
The flaw that I hinted at earlier stems from the fact that the series focuses on a string of murders. This, unfortunately, doesn’t always allow for much character development for those who are killed very early on in the plot. And well, since this is a series full of murder and mayhem, many lives are cut short. (The moral of the story? Don’t get emotionally attached to anyone.)
I would strongly recommend Poe Party: it is a rare series that can make you instantly fall in love with the story and characters. So, what are you waiting for? You can watch the first episode here! Thanks for reading!
(I don’t know what this is. An open letter? To whom?)
Is it too strange to say that I think of death rather frequently? The shadow in the back of my mind, that which haunts subtly and silently. It is there, waiting always, to catch me unguarded. Perhaps, all of these thoughts is too much for my own good, but this is how life, or death, goes: ever present even without my notice.
There are people I know who used to be, they who once were but no longer are, and I should have missed them before they were to be missed. I was blind to the signs of our fraying bonds, our weakening ties. I was blind to the few precious chances I was given to tell you all how much I valued you. So very much. I apologize, but I know that I am too late, and it is already lost to wherever these broken things go. This taste of regret becomes less and less foreign for me.
Will the end come for me just as suddenly? These lives cut too short, the unexpected final breaths, a seed of despair secretly nurtured into fruition. It happened and happens all too fast.
All too often, all too soon, life ends, and here, I am left behind to contemplate, observe, and mourn another new emptiness.
In my last post, I wrote a review on the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Since then, I have watched three different adaptations of this work, and I have enjoyed all of them! Below are my thoughts.
Title: Pride and Prejudice Aired/Released: 1995 Medium: TV Series Starring: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle Run Time: 6 episodes (ranging from 49 to 53 minutes each, totaling up to 5 hours 27 minutes) My Rating: 9/10
Ah yes, the famous adaptation featuring Colin Firth as Darcy. Of course, I had to cover this one first! (And give a quick shoutout to that famous, or should I say infamous, lake scene.)
I actually didn’t watch all of this series but instead only saw parts during my English class, and based on what I saw, I think that the two greatest aspects of this adaptation are that it is so faithful to the source material and that all of the actors perfectly understood their characters. Firstly, I have to admit that maybe I am too cynical when it comes to adapting works of literature into other forms of media. I understand that the new medium has its own advantages and disadvantages, but often, the transition can cut out important parts and/or completely alter the story (in a bad way), which can cause me to immediately lose interest. But with this adaptation, I really appreciated that the meaning of Austen’s work still remained intact despite this transition. As to the acting, I applaud the cast, for their portrayals accurately reflected the best and worst parts of their characters’ personalities.
Title: Pride and Prejudice Aired/Released: 2005 Medium: Movie Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen Run Time: 2 hours 9 minutes My Rating: 8/10
While this adaptation may not be as faithful to the book as the 1995 version, I still enjoyed this movie quite a lot. This time, the story is actually set during a slightly earlier time period (around when Jane Austen started writing Pride and Prejudice during the late 1700’s, rather than the early 1800’s when the novel was published). I do think that this version has a bigger emphasis on the romantic aspect of the plot, but I wouldn’t say that it suffered because of that. Of course, there are the inevitable comparisons with the BBC version, but I believe both adaptations can stand on their own merits. Once again, the acting was great (and interestingly, you can actually recognize a number of now-famous movie stars starting out their careers by playing secondary characters). The cinematography is gorgeous, and ultimately, even if the movie has its moments of wish fulfillment and sappiness, the story still stands strong.
Title: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Aired/Released: 2012-2013 Medium: Web Series on Youtube (along with extra features on other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Tumblr) Starring: Ashley Clements, Julia Cho, Daniel Vincent Gordh, Laura Spencer, Mary Kate Wiles Run Time: 100 episodes (ranging from about 3 to 8 minutes each) My Rating: 9/10
When I first found out about this series, I certainly had my doubts. A modernization? Of Pride and Prejudice??? It seemed an impossible feat. However, I’m glad to say that I was proven wrong. After watching this, I can guarantee you that all of the wit and heart of Austen’s book still remains, even after the characters have been transported to the modern day, given social media accounts, and become American.
Yet there are still changes, which I personally think are for the better. The series boasts much more diversity (for example, Bingley becomes Bing Lee), and characters are more fleshed out (I never thought I would feel sympathetic for Lydia, but I actually did while watching). The events that occur are modernized, but they, and their consequences, are equivalent to what would happen in Jane Austen’s era. Lastly, one more thing I must compliment: the extension of the story beyond just Lizzie’s vlogs. The creators give you a fully immersive experience by running social media accounts and separate vlogging channels that belong to the characters, and this greatly helps to make the characters feel more “real”. Through these other platforms, you get to learn about the events that occur that Lizzie doesn’t witness. Ultimately, it’s another strong adaptation that is able to successfully make the novel seem fresh and relatable to a modern audience.
If you remember my post about 2017 blogging goals, one of them was to expand my blog’s scope to include other interests I have. So here is my first attempt at a book review!
Title:Pride and Prejudice Author: Jane Austen Published: 1813 Genre(s): Romance, Satire, Drama My Rating: 8.5/10 My Summary: Pride and Prejudice chronicles the development of Elizabeth Bennet who comes from a family with five unmarried daughters. However, because the family estate, Longbourn, is entailed and will be inherited by a male relative rather than the girls when Elizabeth’s father passes away, her mother eagerly attempts to get her daughters married off to wealthy men. When an eligible bachelor named Charles Bingley moves into the neighborhood, he attracts the attention of the women of Hertfordshire. With the arrival of Mr. Bingley comes that of his friend, Mr. Darcy, who immediately clashes with Elizabeth. Their conflict leads to epiphanies and eventually, love.
I actually have read Pride and Prejudice two times: earlier, during this past summer for fun, and more recently, for English class. I will admit that the first time I read through it, I definitely did not catch all of the satiric nuances of the book. The second time through, I was much more observant of them, thanks to some tips from my English teacher. But now, on to the actual reviewing part of this post.
From its famous first sentence, Austen clearly establishes that this story is a vehicle for criticizing the courtship process of English society (another facet of life criticized is social class / class divisions), and although this work is famous (especially for its film adaptations), many people don’t realize that it isn’t simply another romance book but a satire. So, when reading, my main suggestion would be to look out for the author’s wit when she pokes fun at the sheer drama involved in marriage during this time period. Although, I enjoyed seeing the characters interact and fall in love and experience conflicts, my favorite part was reading the witty dialogue and, of course, the narrator’s snarky commentary. Another highlight was how clearly the natures of the characters were shown through their dialogue. The reader never really gets a physical description of any of the characters, but their personalities shine through what they say and how they say it.
For me, the biggest fault of Pride and Prejudice was that many of the minor characters of the book were one-dimensional. Characters, like Lady Catherine de Bourgh or Mr. Bennet, are defined by maybe one or two personality traits, whether it be excessively controlling or sarcastic or so on. In fact, I would say that the only characters that felt “real” were Darcy and Elizabeth. Both undergo mental journeys and evolve into better people, while the others essentially stay the same. Yet, Austen could have intentionally designed the characters this way to emphasize how the two protagonists managed to overcome their pride and prejudice.
Ultimately, I found Pride and Prejudice to be an insightful and entertaining look into the courtship process of Regency England; Jane Austen is able to balance drama with social commentary well. I enjoyed reading this book very much and would definitely recommend it!
Thanks for reading this review! If you have any suggestions or feedback regarding how I could improve, please let me know. I want to write more reviews in the future, so I would like to get some ideas about how they can be made even better.
The first thing Anna notices when she gets home is the yellow plastic tape criss-crossing her front door. It stands ajar, swinging in the wind, as she clambers out of the driver’s seat. She remembers having locked it that morning before commuting to work, so why is it open now? Has there been a burglary? The local paper had mentioned a series of thefts, but her neighborhood was mostly made up of middle class families and retirees. The houses burglarized could barely be categorized as houses, maybe… “extravagant houses,” or (the better term would be) “mansions.”
The wind blows, and Anna’s brown hair whips about her face. The strands, along with the cold, sting her skin. She ignores it. Innumerable lengths of tape decorate her lawn, getting wrapped up around tree branches and littering the grass.
A police officer, previously overseeing the bustle of the law enforcement agents, walks up to her and introduces himself. He looks prepared to give bad news and calm her down—
But what exactly has happened at her home?
Wordlessly, he stares at her. (Incredulously or suspiciously? She can’t tell.)