This fiction app will scare the Dickens out of you

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Gently move the iPad and watch the frightened  Charles Dickens character  pull the covers tighter.
Gently move the iPad and watch the frightened Charles Dickens character pull the covers tighter.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

It is one thing to read about a madman. But what if you could feel like those were your hands around the victim’s throat, eyeballs bulging, his gasping breath brushing against your face?

Charles Dickens’ A Madman’s Manuscript feels all the more creepy when you experience the book in interactive form with the new iPhone and iPad app by iClassics.

If digital media is tearing us away from analog books, then the growing collection of illustrated works reimagined by iClassics ensures classic tails not only stay alive but get a new life with illustrations that move with the touch of your screen.

Launch the iDickens app and see a title page that lets you select a story or return to the page where you stopped reading.
Launch the iDickens app and see a title page that lets you select a story or return to the page where you stopped reading.
Photo: iClassics

With three apps of Edgar Allen Poe tales, a new Charles Dickens app and one with some the writings of H.P. Lovecraft in the pipeline, the reader ceases to be a passive witness of a tale. Stories are advanced through participation. You will feel as though blood is dripping from your hands.

iClassics is among several players that republish literature in app form, but creative director David G. Forés does not want people to call what they produce digital books.

“We develop enhanced books,” Forés said earlier this month, when iClassic released the iDickens app. “iClassics are apps that offer endless creative opportunities. They go way farther than the already traditional e-book.

In makes sense that iClassics would lead off its collection with three masters of horror fiction. Think of the fun the artists have in creating scenes that come alive with touch or from shaking your iPhone or iPad.

iClassics has three volumes of Edgar Allen Poe stories on the iTunes store.
iClassics has three volumes of Edgar Allen Poe stories on the iTunes store.
Photo: iClassics

I downloaded iDickens and iPoe 3 onto my iPad. Once launched, the reader sees a title screen with a choice of three stories, a biography of the author and options for text in English, Spanish or French.

Tap an icon in the lower right corner with your thumb and the fun begins. You are immediately transported with a haunting soundtrack and words and images that either unfold on what looks like a yellowed book paper or in the scene being described. The story is best experienced with earphones.

In Christmas Ghosts: A Fragment of A Christmas Tree, the first scene shows a horse-drawn carriage traveling a snowy forest trail with rich audio detail, like the clip-clop of the horses hooves and creaky springs on the carriage.

The next scene brings you to an archway of trees that clears with the touch of the screen with the sound of a creaky gate opening. At this point, you have to keep going. There’s one scene with a terrified character who pulls the covers tighter over his face as you move your iPad, another includes a ghost that disappears into a vapor when you touch him.

You get the picture and to describe more, would ruin the experience.

The iDickens app was released on July 9 and is available for $1.99 on the iTunes store. Scroll down the iTunes store page and you will find links to the three iPoe apps. iClassics began in 2011 and is developing versions of the collections for Android.

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