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Winner of the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspira Winner of the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspiration from accounts and tales which spawned from the misdeeds of one Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Fact and speculation intertwine herein, just as they did during the man’s own lifetime. There’s plenty of room in the cellar for everyone in The Devil’s Dreamland.


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Winner of the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspira Winner of the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspiration from accounts and tales which spawned from the misdeeds of one Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Fact and speculation intertwine herein, just as they did during the man’s own lifetime. There’s plenty of room in the cellar for everyone in The Devil’s Dreamland.

30 review for The Devil's Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    You should know a few things: This poetry collection won a Bram Stoker in 2018 These poems are based on "America's First Serial Killer" H. H. Holmes. If you haven't read, The Devil in the White City (a historical fiction novel by Erik Larson about Holmes, I highly recommend it as I believe that book only enhanced my reading of this collection) Lastly, this book was included in the Night Worms package, "Feasting on Horror" November 2019 (and I am a co-owner). I was excited to buy this horror poetry You should know a few things: This poetry collection won a Bram Stoker in 2018 These poems are based on "America's First Serial Killer" H. H. Holmes. If you haven't read, The Devil in the White City (a historical fiction novel by Erik Larson about Holmes, I highly recommend it as I believe that book only enhanced my reading of this collection) Lastly, this book was included in the Night Worms package, "Feasting on Horror" November 2019 (and I am a co-owner). I was excited to buy this horror poetry collection for myself and so was Ashley, we're both big fans of Sara's after reading LOVE FOR SLAUGHTER and TO BE DEVOURED so we decided to include it for all the Worms out there. Reading these poems was such an experience! Sara walks her readers through a timeline in history--each poem serves a purpose. The poem might be told as though we are a fly on the wall in a room observing events. It might be told through the eyes of a housekeeper who sweeps the floors of the Doctor's room--she wonders what's under the bed. There are smells. We might get a poem from the perspective of a local pharmacist or perhaps a woman that catches the fancy of a young man with steel-blue eyes and a charming demeanor. One of my favorite poems was told as Chicago itself, personified, after it had burned to the ground. As I turned the pages, one thing stayed in the back of mind and that was how incredibly impressed I was with the amount of research that clearly went into this work. There are physical descriptions, dates, names, growing intensity, and patterns that I'm sure was quite likely close to reality. Holmes' had built this "Murder Castle" and I believe Sara had to fill in some missing pieces to the puzzle but she managed to bring to life this depraved fantasy of a madman! Again I stress, this is very impressive work. One thing I really feel like I need to say is that Sara gave H. H. Holmes such a distinct personality and voice, I felt like I yearned for more--a full novel. I could read this story in explicit detail and more in a storytelling format rather than poetry. But that's just because I'm a horror fiction lover and I'm new to the world of dark poetry. There's nothing lacking here. This is totally perfect just the way it is. I'm just greedy. Recommend for fans of True Crime, Murder, Serial Killers, Grisly Deeds, Historical Fiction and Amazing Poetry.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    "I am / your American serial killer, wrapped up / in 19th century shreds of screaming women." I adore Sara Tantlinger's poetry, and I am intrigued by the story of HH Holmes, so I knew The Devil's Dreamland was going to be perfect for me as soon as I heard about it. I started it as soon as it arrived, and it quickly became one of my favorite books I've read this year. Sara's research was so in-depth, and you can see the love she had for this project poured out into the pages. Although the poems h "I am / your American serial killer, wrapped up / in 19th century shreds of screaming women." I adore Sara Tantlinger's poetry, and I am intrigued by the story of HH Holmes, so I knew The Devil's Dreamland was going to be perfect for me as soon as I heard about it. I started it as soon as it arrived, and it quickly became one of my favorite books I've read this year. Sara's research was so in-depth, and you can see the love she had for this project poured out into the pages. Although the poems have a fictional twist, they are organized by chronological events, and the book tells HH Holmes' full life story. I loved that it was set up in this way, and it was like reading a fictional novel about a true crime story told through poems. I loved that so many poems were from different points of view - you are not in Holmes' head the entire time. Some of them are focused on the people and things around him, and Sara did an amazing job at weaving together as complete of a story on Holmes as possible. There are all sorts of different emotions here - this poems are so grim and gory, but some of them are amusing, some are sad, angry, hopeful, etc. A range of emotions is covered within this book, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Some of the poems are so lyrical that I could see this as a musical (and it would be the best musical ever). It's so easy to get invested in what's going on, and this real-life horror story is told so beautifully. It was so hard to narrow down my top 5, but here they are: Metamorphosis, Push, The Devil's Dreamland, Unblessed Excavation, and In the Castle's Heart, You Die. These are the ones that will haunt me the most from this book. I think this book would be perfect for true crime, horror, and poetry fans. Even if you're only a fan of one, get The Devil's Dreamland so you can enjoy the other two (I love all three). I was both entertained and unsettled by this book, and I already want to read it again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mindi

    Full disclosure, I know small tidbits about H.H. Holmes, but I've never really read about him in detail or watched any documentaries. So this book of poetry is essentially my introduction to him, and it was perfect. Tantlinger doesn't assume that readers know the details, so she gives you small amounts of information for a number of the poems, including an author's note at the beginning of the collection. Essentially, these poems gave me just enough to want to know more, while at the same time s Full disclosure, I know small tidbits about H.H. Holmes, but I've never really read about him in detail or watched any documentaries. So this book of poetry is essentially my introduction to him, and it was perfect. Tantlinger doesn't assume that readers know the details, so she gives you small amounts of information for a number of the poems, including an author's note at the beginning of the collection. Essentially, these poems gave me just enough to want to know more, while at the same time standing on their own. I really enjoyed Tantlinger's collection Love for Slaughter, so I knew I needed to pick this one up as well. Her prose is exquisite, and I enjoyed this collection just as much as the the former. I'm still relatively new to poetry, but I'm really enjoying horror poetry, and Tantlinger is one of the best horror poets out there. The author has piqued my curiosity enough that I'm reading The Devil in the White City this month. A big thank you to Tantlinger for giving me a new obsession, and in such a beautifully written way.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Robinson

    All. The. Stars. Amazing poetry collection surrounding HH Holmes. I have always been fascinated with books, documentaries, and tv shows dealing with true crime, especially those centered around serial killers. Last year, I watched a Netflix documentary on H.H Holmes, and just before I learned of Tantlinger's book, I was already listening to a podcast series on H.H. Holmes. Why are my viewing and listening habits relevant? Because it made my reading experience so wonderful as I saw Tantlinger cre All. The. Stars. Amazing poetry collection surrounding HH Holmes. I have always been fascinated with books, documentaries, and tv shows dealing with true crime, especially those centered around serial killers. Last year, I watched a Netflix documentary on H.H Holmes, and just before I learned of Tantlinger's book, I was already listening to a podcast series on H.H. Holmes. Why are my viewing and listening habits relevant? Because it made my reading experience so wonderful as I saw Tantlinger creatively weave gristly true crime details into her poetry. Even if I hadn't had all of that background knowledge, I still would've appreciated this skill, but it did make a difference for me. So. Poetry. It never has been my "go to" genre. I studied it when I had to in undergrad and graduate school. I have a few favorites that I teach when it is appropriate. But I've never looked at a book of poetry and said "oooh, yes please"...until I saw this book. If you are like me, and poetry isn't your jam - consider giving this a try. Tantlinger plays with form and substance. Some of the poems are sparse and chilling, others are more prose-like, and ALL of them are accessible and engrossing. These pieces look at Holmes' life from all angles. Most of them are chronological and one of my favorite things about this read is the focus on having people other than Holmes provide some of the POVs. We hear from his mother (man I loved that poem), Holmes, a few victims, a 3rd person narrator, the "Murder Castle", and his accomplice (well, if he can be called that) has a section. The levels of research and scholarship that must have gone into this collection are at once readily evident, yet the information is expertly woven into the poems. The result is being able to grab onto those details of HH Holmes and his crimes easily, without breaking that trance of sorts that comes with a great read. This is historical fiction (or historical horror) at its very best. I may not be a poetry fan yet, but I sure am a Tantlinger poetry fan now. In fact, I will be reading her other poetry collection "Love For Slaughter" as my first book in January of 2019. And I cannot wait to get back into her brain.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I read an advanced copy of this excellent collection and provided a recommendation for the cover -- and now that it's out, I'm rereading it and in awe of how good this book is all over again. The Devil's Dreamland is a deeply-researched and daring crime documentary, told through verse, that persistently invites the reader to contemplate the unimaginable through a historical autopsy of Chicago's historically heinous murderer, HH Holmes. More deviant and inexplicable than Jack the Ripper, Holmes i I read an advanced copy of this excellent collection and provided a recommendation for the cover -- and now that it's out, I'm rereading it and in awe of how good this book is all over again. The Devil's Dreamland is a deeply-researched and daring crime documentary, told through verse, that persistently invites the reader to contemplate the unimaginable through a historical autopsy of Chicago's historically heinous murderer, HH Holmes. More deviant and inexplicable than Jack the Ripper, Holmes infamously transformed a house near the 1893 World's Fair exhibition into a "murder castle" -- a chamber for capturing and creatively killing his many victims. He was also a curious con man, slipping savagely between the cracks of his culture. Tantlinger's daring imagination and evocative language gives voice to his many poor victims, his various locations, his romantic partners, his historical period, and, most terrifyingly, the psychopath himself throughout his life, all the way up to his final bow. Tantlinger uses history as a grotesque operating theater for her imagination, cutting into the enigma that was Holmes from an array of angles, unfolding the psychopath with an unflinching sense of morbid curiosity. It lends depth to the stories we've heard, while at the same time showing that there's so much more to the story than we can ever really know. Plus it's just creepy as hell. Definitely a must-read work of contemporary poetry, sure to be a hit with true crime and horror fans alike.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Audra (ouija.reads)

    As a true crime buff and new fan of horror poetry, this combination of both was a must-read for me! The collection reads more like a story, following Holmes from his beginnings, to his first forays into crime and other ill pursuits, to the building of his murder castle in Chicago, and beyond. I thought I would read a few each day, but I got sucked into the narrative flow of the poems and ended up reading through it mostly in one sitting. It isn't the type of poetry book you would want to dip in a As a true crime buff and new fan of horror poetry, this combination of both was a must-read for me! The collection reads more like a story, following Holmes from his beginnings, to his first forays into crime and other ill pursuits, to the building of his murder castle in Chicago, and beyond. I thought I would read a few each day, but I got sucked into the narrative flow of the poems and ended up reading through it mostly in one sitting. It isn't the type of poetry book you would want to dip in and out of at random, at least until you've read it all the way through once. Tantlinger bases the work on fact, but isn't afraid to let imaginings and possibilities fill in the holes where we don't really know the truth of what happened with Holmes and his victims. If you are into true crime, you are probably already aware of the strange interest, that weird compulsive magnetism toward serial killers—those enigmatic and eminently terrifying monsters whose minds we just can't quite comprehend. What is it about them that compels them to horrifying acts and yet allows them to seamlessly blend in with everyone else? If you are perhaps a bit afraid of poetry, this collection is a wonderful example of how poems don't have to be obfuscating. Tantlinger's use of language is measured, image-driven, and often playful, and her attention to line breaks and spacing give the lines fresh readings upon closer inspection. I think the whole project could have dug deeper into the psychological component of what makes the man a monster, as it instead stay fairly narrative in structure and substance. There is space in poetry for wonderings, lucid dreamings, what-ifs, and whys that you just can't explore the same way in fiction. I loved the poems and the story they told, but I'm left with an unfinished feeling as to what the collection was supposed to represent. It could be a lot of things: hidden evil or the cycle of evil, the psychological underpinnings of psychopaths, a study in victimology. . . But I didn't feel that the collection left me pondering a specific great question. I don't think this detracts from the collection at all, hence my 5 stars, but it could have added another dimension to an already strong piece of writing. Just like the intricate paths, secret hallways, and hidden trapdoors of Holmes's murder castle, The Devil's Dreamland twists through the life and mind of one of America's most infamous serial killers and is sure to leave you with plenty of nightmares for your next trip to dreamland.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Stone

    This book is great! One of my favorite poetry collections I've ever read. Def recommended for horror / history / serial killer fans of all mediums. This book is great! One of my favorite poetry collections I've ever read. Def recommended for horror / history / serial killer fans of all mediums.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    A masterpiece. What more is there to say. I am not one who reads a lot of poetry. Honestly I don't read any poetry. This was included in the Nightworms Feasting on Horror package for November 2019 which I purchased. The subject matter being America's first serial killer, a one H.H. Holmes, was intriguing to me but I was still a little wary as again I don't read poetry. Wow! Am I glad to have stepped out of my reading comfort zone and read this. Tantlinger's prose is morbidly lyrical. She is able A masterpiece. What more is there to say. I am not one who reads a lot of poetry. Honestly I don't read any poetry. This was included in the Nightworms Feasting on Horror package for November 2019 which I purchased. The subject matter being America's first serial killer, a one H.H. Holmes, was intriguing to me but I was still a little wary as again I don't read poetry. Wow! Am I glad to have stepped out of my reading comfort zone and read this. Tantlinger's prose is morbidly lyrical. She is able to spin a chilling tale of the life and death of one of the world's most notorious serial killers. I felt like every word, every line, every stanza was painstakingly crafted to vividly bring the horrors and atrocities held within to life. I loved how there were also poems with an omniscient perspective such as The Bloodletting of a New Century wherein the 19th century talks about how it was destined for glory but would only be remembered for the demon it created. Another was The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 wherein Chicago burns to ash to be reborn as the White City. This collection is full of gruesome imagery and riveting storytelling. I took my time reading this, letting it all soak in. You can tell that Tantlinger did a huge amount of research for this project and I think it definitely paid off. If you are into horror and true crime fiction then this is one that you do not want to miss out on. I highly recommend delving into this one. Even if you aren't a fan of poetry give it a shot. Who knows, you might end up being converted like I was. Video review: https://youtu.be/ds3BOqF-pPY

  9. 5 out of 5

    Timons Esaias

    I used two poems from this collection as teaching examples, last year, when teaching the ins and outs of genre poetry. I had only skimmed parts of the book to find them, but now I've had the chance to read it cover-to-cover. As I said to the author herself, "Wow." The poems take on the story of Herman Webster Mudgett at several levels: the con artist, the serial killer, the madman, the metaphor for the coming 20th Century, and the possible Anti-Christ. The facts of the story are uncertain as it i I used two poems from this collection as teaching examples, last year, when teaching the ins and outs of genre poetry. I had only skimmed parts of the book to find them, but now I've had the chance to read it cover-to-cover. As I said to the author herself, "Wow." The poems take on the story of Herman Webster Mudgett at several levels: the con artist, the serial killer, the madman, the metaphor for the coming 20th Century, and the possible Anti-Christ. The facts of the story are uncertain as it is, but this book consciously embraces myth and legend and the con; which gives it quite a bit of potential range. Some of the poems also touch on the experience of the poet and of the reader, as they engage with the story. As a writer, the introduction to the kymographion (an early lie-detection device) --and to the gentleman who used it on Holmes -- was worth the price of the book. I should probably point out that I taught Tantlinger when she was an undergraduate, and she took classes from me in graduate school, as well. I'll admit to being rather proud of her success. Strongly recommended, but not for the squeamish.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kasey Ashton

    1st read of the year & first 5 🎃 book of the year 🎉. Who knew horror poetry could be so visceral, disturbing, & morbidly fascinating while also being beautiful & lyrical 🤷‍♀️🖤. Highly recommend The Devil's Dreamland, especially if you think you don't like poetry, this book may just change your mind or at least leave with a strong case of the chills 😱. 1st read of the year & first 5 🎃 book of the year 🎉. Who knew horror poetry could be so visceral, disturbing, & morbidly fascinating while also being beautiful & lyrical 🤷‍♀️🖤. Highly recommend The Devil's Dreamland, especially if you think you don't like poetry, this book may just change your mind or at least leave with a strong case of the chills 😱.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Cowgill (LanternsJourney)

    The Devil's Dreamland is the story of H.H. Holmes' life in poetry. It's so much more than a straight forward account though; it breathes life into the monster and his victims, exhuming them for the current reader's imagination. Be prepared to want to read this in one sitting and be thoroughly chilled afterwards. The Devil's Dreamland is the story of H.H. Holmes' life in poetry. It's so much more than a straight forward account though; it breathes life into the monster and his victims, exhuming them for the current reader's imagination. Be prepared to want to read this in one sitting and be thoroughly chilled afterwards.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    Thank you so much, Sara Tantlinger, for providing me with a review copy of The Devil’s Dreamland! This collection of poetry is inspired by serial killer, H.H. Holmes. & that right there is probably why I was so ecstatic to read it. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology & had a heavy emphasis on studying the mind of serial killers. For those who are unaware of H.H. Holmes, he is considered to be America’s first serial killer & committed most of his heinous crimes in what is deemed to be the ‘Mu Thank you so much, Sara Tantlinger, for providing me with a review copy of The Devil’s Dreamland! This collection of poetry is inspired by serial killer, H.H. Holmes. & that right there is probably why I was so ecstatic to read it. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology & had a heavy emphasis on studying the mind of serial killers. For those who are unaware of H.H. Holmes, he is considered to be America’s first serial killer & committed most of his heinous crimes in what is deemed to be the ‘Murder Castle’ in Chicago, Illinois. It’s clear that Sara Tantlinger spent a lot of time doing her research & I definitely give her a lot of props for that. I could only imagine how difficult it would be to spend that much time in the mind of H.H. Holmes. A majority of the poetry is actually written in his point-of-view, which adds points to the uncomfortable factor of this poetry collection. & with that point being made, there are several disturbing and uncomfortable scenes in this collection, but could you expect anything less? I mean, after all the entire thing is inspired by H.H. Holmes. Major props to you, Sara, for actually making me cringe due to being so uncomfortable while reading this. Sara completely nailed it, in terms of placing you within the events of H.H. Holmes’ life. I felt as if I was actually witnessing everything as it unfolded. All of his life events were even ordered in chronological order; meaning, we witness H.H. Homes’ birth, life, death & even afterlife. Although, I have a review e-copy of The Devil’s Dreamland, I intend on buying a physical copy for my book collection — because, listen, it’s a NEED. I feel like not only did I get a good & frightful read, but I even gained more knowledge on one of America’s most notorious serial killers. I strongly recommend this for both readers of horror & those who find interest in the mind.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I'm in awe of this collection of poems. I already knew plenty about HH Holmes—I've read several books about his crimes. This is something else entirely. The scholarship is excellent, and she clearly knows her subject inside and out, and I mean way inside. The blending of fiction with fact is seamless as she explores the thoughts of the killer as well as those of his victims. There are some truly magnificent insights here, and some of them are beautiful, and some of them are chilling. And, on top I'm in awe of this collection of poems. I already knew plenty about HH Holmes—I've read several books about his crimes. This is something else entirely. The scholarship is excellent, and she clearly knows her subject inside and out, and I mean way inside. The blending of fiction with fact is seamless as she explores the thoughts of the killer as well as those of his victims. There are some truly magnificent insights here, and some of them are beautiful, and some of them are chilling. And, on top of it all, it's good poetry. I'll be reading this again.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sonora Taylor

    4.5 out of 5. A wonderful, haunting tale of HH Holmes’ life and misdeeds, all woven through poetry. Tantlinger’s verses are vivid, well-constructed, and creepy. I really enjoyed this collection.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Claire Holland

    Tantlinger weaves a dark and stunning story. Highly recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Blythe

    The Devil's Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes by Sara Tantlinger is a profound and chilling collection, which blend fact and supposition to relate the life and times of the man thought to be America's first serial killer. The poems are visceral with a fascinating narrative arc. I was excited to have been able to recently interview Sara for the New Books in Poetry podcast, which should be available soon. Edited to Add: My podcast interview with Sara Tantlinger is up at New Books in Poetry. The Devil's Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes by Sara Tantlinger is a profound and chilling collection, which blend fact and supposition to relate the life and times of the man thought to be America's first serial killer. The poems are visceral with a fascinating narrative arc. I was excited to have been able to recently interview Sara for the New Books in Poetry podcast, which should be available soon. Edited to Add: My podcast interview with Sara Tantlinger is up at New Books in Poetry.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Read

    Love true crime, check. Love historical lit, check. Love horror, check. Love poetry, check. Love Love Love this book. I was fascinated by this concept from the beginning—a biography of a serial killer told all in poems? Tantlinger does an amazing job painting the life of H. H. Holmes and his victims. It’s done with darkness and sympathy and without flinching away from the horror of it all. If flows smoothly, then slaps you in the face with lines like, “are these not your father’s teeth?” Pure co Love true crime, check. Love historical lit, check. Love horror, check. Love poetry, check. Love Love Love this book. I was fascinated by this concept from the beginning—a biography of a serial killer told all in poems? Tantlinger does an amazing job painting the life of H. H. Holmes and his victims. It’s done with darkness and sympathy and without flinching away from the horror of it all. If flows smoothly, then slaps you in the face with lines like, “are these not your father’s teeth?” Pure concentrated dread. Highly recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Suzy Michael

    Sarah Tantlinger takes us inside the mind and house of one of America's most prolific, and possibly first serial killers, H.H. Holmes. The Devil's Dreamland is a collection of poetry centered around the man and the mystery, taking a look at all aspects of his life in chronological order. Chilling and engrossing, The Devil's Dreamland is a must read for true crime and horror fans alike! H.H. Holmes rose to fame with the horrific crimes he committed in the late 19th century, many of which occurred Sarah Tantlinger takes us inside the mind and house of one of America's most prolific, and possibly first serial killers, H.H. Holmes. The Devil's Dreamland is a collection of poetry centered around the man and the mystery, taking a look at all aspects of his life in chronological order. Chilling and engrossing, The Devil's Dreamland is a must read for true crime and horror fans alike! H.H. Holmes rose to fame with the horrific crimes he committed in the late 19th century, many of which occurred in his "Murder Castle", which he built near the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The placement is strategic as it made for easy pickings from a bustling crowd. Ms. Tantlinger takes her inspiration for her second work of poetry from the murders committed by Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Tantlinger weaves fiction through fact, echoing what the public did back when these horrors were committed. There is much that is still unknown about Holmes and his practices, so speculation had to be worked in to fill the gaps. Being someone that is a serial killer/true crime junky, and loves poetry, this seemed like it would be something I'd enjoy. And I thorughly did! As this is based on a real person, one would expect a lot of research to be done, and it is very clear, the author spent a large amount of time studying every aspect of Holmes. Many of the poems are from Holmes point of view, and I think spending a lot of time in the mind of a serial killer would be unpleasant, but who am I kidding? As a Horror writer myself, we live for this stuff! But still, the poems from his POV still made my skin crawl a bit. As I stated earlier, the poems are in chronological order starting with his birth, his life, and then after his death. We have a poem from his Mother's point of view, some from his victims, and even the house itself-Brilliant! Loved that! And although the verses are heavily grounded in fact and documented history, Tantlinger fills in the gaps with fiction that is believable and that works and flows easily with the facts. This shows a practically limitless imagination and magnificent insight. She was even brave enough to bring in a rivalry between Holmes and Jack the Ripper! I have no words for that. Like, mic drop. I loved it! There were times that she would take my emotions to an uncomfortable extreme, but I just couldn't put it down. I read this in one sitting. Sarah Tantlinger takes the reader on a tour through a house where unspeakable horrors took place. We are walked down hidden paths, shown down secret hallways, and sometimes falling through the numerous trapdoors, all the while speculating what happened between H.H. Holmes and his victims in his various chambers. But Thanks to Ms. Tantlinger, her well-crafted verse and detailed descriptions, she does not leave much for the imagination. The Murder Castle was Holmes dreamland. In The Devil's Dreamland, Sarah Tantlinger gives us horror lovers our own playground. Though it may be a bit disturbing and unnerving, all of us are very willing to play!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra L. Thompson

    I’m very strange with my preferences, I admit this. I like things horrific, but not extreme. I like historical fiction, but it needs to have some bite. I like poetry, but I need it dark in nature, with words that drip and cadence that flows. So when I discovered The Devil’s Dreamland by Sara Tantlinger, I died. I have been obsessed with the demonic maniac that is H.H. Holmes for a long time (and yes, I also died when American Horror Story decided to play off him for Hotel), indulging in several b I’m very strange with my preferences, I admit this. I like things horrific, but not extreme. I like historical fiction, but it needs to have some bite. I like poetry, but I need it dark in nature, with words that drip and cadence that flows. So when I discovered The Devil’s Dreamland by Sara Tantlinger, I died. I have been obsessed with the demonic maniac that is H.H. Holmes for a long time (and yes, I also died when American Horror Story decided to play off him for Hotel), indulging in several books about him, including Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. So to discover a poetry book centered around him was mind blowing in itself. But Tantlinger’s prose? I am still blown away. I finished The Devil’s Dreamland in two nights and was so impressed, I had to read it again, simply to savor every perfectly placed word. She starts the book with poems of young Herman Webster Mudgett as he slowly unravels into the infamous serial killer we know today. Dipping into perspectives such as his mother, “...but when I sleep, with my fingers steeped over my swollen belly during the muteness of the night I dream of falling into warmth, metallic and thick...” his teachers, “...in all my years of sawing, cutting, scraping at the oozing husk of a dead body, I’ve never seen a man smile as he severs the body...” all the way to his landlord, “Young medical student, what do you keep Beneath the bed where I must sweep?” Tantlinger artfully paints tension, building anxiety in her readers who are fully aware that these experiences lead up to monstrous legacy that H. H. Holmes leaves behind. She enters into several other perspectives during the build, but where Sara truly shines is when she jumps into the head of the monster himself, allowing his depraved words to spill out in her prose. She is able to flawlessly generate the sufficient dread horror writers often fail to produce when entering the mind of a madman - even tying in other historical monsters in the process: “...At this stillborn, chilled moment H.H. Holmes hears Backward whispers slithering into his small ears You can do better...” Folks, I loved every damn moment of reading this collection. In fact, I struggle not to give you more. I hope you will discover on your own just how amazing this collection is. I’ve never quite experienced such an masterfully written and constructed culmination of horror-inspired poetry - and I write horror-inspired poetry! Needless to say, I highly recommend this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    GracieKat

    The Devil's Dreamland caught my attention because some of the Ladies of Horror were talking about it. When I learned that it was poetry inspired by H.H. Holmes...well, how could I resist? Holmes (or Mudgett, however you want to refer to him) has always been pretty fascinating. As a serial/signature killer he stands out a bit. Most killers that fall under those labels tend to have preferred types and methods of killing and killing for monetary gain seems to be fairly rare. And let's be honest, th The Devil's Dreamland caught my attention because some of the Ladies of Horror were talking about it. When I learned that it was poetry inspired by H.H. Holmes...well, how could I resist? Holmes (or Mudgett, however you want to refer to him) has always been pretty fascinating. As a serial/signature killer he stands out a bit. Most killers that fall under those labels tend to have preferred types and methods of killing and killing for monetary gain seems to be fairly rare. And let's be honest, the Murder Castle is fascinating all on its own. Don't think me too weird (if you don't already) but I would actually like to see it recreated. Not for killing purposes of course but just to see how it was set up and how it worked. I've never been hugely into poetry. When I do read it I tend to prefer narrative poems (such as The Highwayman, etc.). I'm not sure if I have that term right, I'm not sure which kinds are which. Long story short - I like poems that tell stories. The Devil's Dreamland is such a book. The poems range from Holmes to the people he came into contact with (usually to their detriment) and ruminations on the time period itself. The poems in Devil's Dreamland flow smoothly and the words are beautiful and never seem forced. I particularly liked this quote: "He finds me in the winter when the air is arctic-flavored" Sarah Tantlinger also knows when to stop the word flow to continue her poem. It's hard to separate the poems into 'favorites' as they all flow together so well. But I did have a few (how could I not?). Metamorphosis, Womb of Madness, The First Wife: Clara, Englewood, Lips Bitten Raw, Metempsychosis, and Unblessed Excavation. All in all I did love the collection very much. I also liked the tidbits of information with the poems. They weren't excessive info dumps, just tidbits to refresh your memory or let new readers know some Holmes facts. I don't know if I would try another collection of poetry but, if horror poetry is a passion of yours, I would definitely give it a try. Even if it's not your usual reading style I strongly recommend it for any horror or true crime buff. Find this and much more at Received from the author for review consideration

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (spooky.octopus.reads) Turner

    Who knew true crime poetry could be a thing? This one is such a good thing that it won a Bram Stoker award in 2018, and I can totally see why! I was blown away by this collection I received in the Nov 2019 Night Worms package. There obviously was so much research and background work done to pull this poetry collection together. I actually learned so much about H. H. Holmes that I didn’t know prior to reading. To be honest, I had a basic background of the serial killer and his crimes, but this po Who knew true crime poetry could be a thing? This one is such a good thing that it won a Bram Stoker award in 2018, and I can totally see why! I was blown away by this collection I received in the Nov 2019 Night Worms package. There obviously was so much research and background work done to pull this poetry collection together. I actually learned so much about H. H. Holmes that I didn’t know prior to reading. To be honest, I had a basic background of the serial killer and his crimes, but this poetry collection enhanced and added so much to my knowledge while also being so entertaining and engrossing. I easily devoured this book in one sitting. The various viewpoints and voices on these pages have interesting and well rounded perspectives about the horrors perpetrated by Holmes, and I loved it. I found many of the voices in the poems to be utterly bone chilling but morbidly beautiful. All the stars for this one!!! Can I give it more than 5 stars? I would totally recommend this for anyone who enjoys horror, true crime, poetry, serial killers, history or just damn good writing. This book left me wanting more from Sara Tantlinger and more horror poetry.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Wow! What an incredible read. I wanted to give it 5 stars just based on the premise, which is so creative and unique. Of COURSE I want to read a book of poetry that shows me the perspectives of the serial killer H.H. Holmes and the people he worked with, purchased medical items from, and murdered! Then I read it, and damn! It's amazing. It's really enthralling. The poetry format still came across as a full story and for those who might not enjoy poetry, it isn't what you think. It's better. It p Wow! What an incredible read. I wanted to give it 5 stars just based on the premise, which is so creative and unique. Of COURSE I want to read a book of poetry that shows me the perspectives of the serial killer H.H. Holmes and the people he worked with, purchased medical items from, and murdered! Then I read it, and damn! It's amazing. It's really enthralling. The poetry format still came across as a full story and for those who might not enjoy poetry, it isn't what you think. It's better. It packs so much into each word and thought. I love the horrifying and dreadful idea of this evil never dying, so the ending was both spine-chilling and satisfying. The prose drips with cyanide, rising up from the pages like gaseous chloroform, infiltrating your mind and causing your heart to race. The fear is palpable. I applaud Sara Tantlinger for reaching inside such a decrepit grave and exposing the oozing, malevolent blackness that could have very possibly been this man's true thoughts. I am so completely pleased with this short book and very highly recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fred Shrum

    From dark poet Sara Tantlinger comes an evocative take on malevolent charmer H. H. Holmes. Sara's tome is part biography, part blueprint and part history. All wrapped in poetry that will leave you breathless. Through Sara you will realize all the hallmarks of a killer in Holmes's upbringing. Psychologic knowledge that we didn't have in Holmes's time. "The Tenant" builds a sense of tension to a heart pounding conclusion. With "chloroform" unease turns into alarm. "The Kiln" reads like a tune that From dark poet Sara Tantlinger comes an evocative take on malevolent charmer H. H. Holmes. Sara's tome is part biography, part blueprint and part history. All wrapped in poetry that will leave you breathless. Through Sara you will realize all the hallmarks of a killer in Holmes's upbringing. Psychologic knowledge that we didn't have in Holmes's time. "The Tenant" builds a sense of tension to a heart pounding conclusion. With "chloroform" unease turns into alarm. "The Kiln" reads like a tune that could go on a Tom Waits album. There's even an unholy rivalry between Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Sara's style of imagery is like a fist to the solar plexus. Several times the emotions got extreme and I wanted to put the book down. But like a grisly car wreck, I couldn't look away. The final poem reaches an unexpected conclusion. Thumbs down to the devil of Chicago. High five to Sara Tantlinger.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alex Gray (gray__pages)

    “Young medical student, what do you keep beneath the bed where I must sweep?” I am new to the world of dark poetry. In my humble opinion, this gorgeous collection by Sara Tantlinger was the perfect place to start. This collection is based on the man known as America’s first serial killer, H H Holmes. What I loved about this book is that the poems told a story, from the beginning of Holmes’ life to the end of it upon his conviction. Tantlinger’s poetry is like opening a door to a beautiful nightmar “Young medical student, what do you keep beneath the bed where I must sweep?” I am new to the world of dark poetry. In my humble opinion, this gorgeous collection by Sara Tantlinger was the perfect place to start. This collection is based on the man known as America’s first serial killer, H H Holmes. What I loved about this book is that the poems told a story, from the beginning of Holmes’ life to the end of it upon his conviction. Tantlinger’s poetry is like opening a door to a beautiful nightmare. It’s eerie, outlandish and straight up gory at times. I loved this so much that I bought another one of her collections, LOVE FOR SLAUGHTER. If you have yet to dive into the world of dark poetry and are interested in doing so, definitely check out the work of this talented writer!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard Leis

    To be honest, I'm reluctant to watch or read works based on real serial killers. I need the emotional distance of fiction in my horror. I also worry about glorifying and sensationalizing them, keeping them famous while their victims are always less well known or mourned. But Sara Tantlinger has mostly won me over with her dark horror collection The Devil's Dreamland, and especially those poems that weave together what is known or imagined about the killer's life with the history of Chicago and co To be honest, I'm reluctant to watch or read works based on real serial killers. I need the emotional distance of fiction in my horror. I also worry about glorifying and sensationalizing them, keeping them famous while their victims are always less well known or mourned. But Sara Tantlinger has mostly won me over with her dark horror collection The Devil's Dreamland, and especially those poems that weave together what is known or imagined about the killer's life with the history of Chicago and contemplations about the nature of evil, including how society itself may be implicated. I didn't feel she was trying to get me to sympathize with the serial killer. A little less effective for me personally were the poems about the victims, either in their own voices or in the voice of a third person persona narrator. The poems in the killer's voice were perhaps the most difficult for me to fathom, because the poetry of that voice is so, well, poetic, which is actually really disturbing, in my opinion. But this is beautifully crafted poetry that tackles difficult topics well. The last few poems and their warnings about evil are particularly timely, and frightening.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nina The Wandering Reader

    I freaking loved this collection and how each poem chronicled the dark life and crimes of H.H. Holmes from various perspectives--his wives, his neighbors, his accomplice, his victims. Once I finished, I immediately wanted to learn more about Holmes because up until this moment, I knew nothing about him ( yes, yes I know I need to read Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City")! So I will probably do a deep dive into the world of America's first serial killer now that Tantlinger has piqued my i I freaking loved this collection and how each poem chronicled the dark life and crimes of H.H. Holmes from various perspectives--his wives, his neighbors, his accomplice, his victims. Once I finished, I immediately wanted to learn more about Holmes because up until this moment, I knew nothing about him ( yes, yes I know I need to read Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City")! So I will probably do a deep dive into the world of America's first serial killer now that Tantlinger has piqued my interest with her fantastic work. I sincerely hope she starts a whole series of poetry inspired by famous serial killers!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Well Read Beard

    Wonderful collection of linear poetry, telling one story - the life of the horrific serial killer H.H. Holmes. I love the format - It was easier to read than most poetry collections due to the it being a single story. I am all in with this type of book, I want more - a series of serial killer poetry collections? This is my 2nd book by Sara - both were ridiculously amazing reads - both have grown my love of poetry.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lacey

    I loved these poems about Holmes. It was like finding his secret journal and reading about all the heinous things he did.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

    I loved this book from the start to the finish it gripped me all the way through I could not stop reading it it displays perfectly the man we know Holmes to be

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Brilliant.... horrifying.....

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