A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Raven's Tale is historical fiction that explores the life of Edgar Allan Poe as a 17-year-old. There're lots of dark, gruesome, horrifying, and sometimes violent images that are meant to show how he became the famous writer obsessed with death and darkness.There's some fighting, a few mentions of blood, fantasy violence that describes blood and pain, one somewhat gory description of injuries to an arm from biting, and vague pairing of sex with violence when during a kiss with a fantasy creature. Poe sees gruesome, horrifying images in his mind that appear years later in his work. Sexual content includes a few brief descriptions of real-world, opposite-sex kisses and a couple of same-sex kisses between fantasy creatures. Between Poe and his foster father there's a fair amount of drinking that's never glamorized and mention consequences like hangover symptoms and throwing up. An important character smokes a pipe and the smell is usually mentioned as unpleasant. There are a couple of mentions of people addicted to opium. Readers will learn a lot about Poe and his world. The Author's Note, list of resources, and list of sources for the poems and other works quoted in the story may inspire readers to learn and read more.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE RAVEN'S TALE, 17-year-old Edgar Poe can't wait to go off to college and get away from his oppressive foster father John Allan. Allan's worried that if Edgar pursues his love of writing, instead of a more stable career, Edgar will never be able to make a living. Shortly before starting at the University of Virginia, Edgar's creativity, inspiration, and dark obsessions become physically alive in the creature he names Lenore. But while at the university Edgar wants to keep Lenore a secret, afraid of what other people would think of him if they could see the strange embodiment of Edgar's macabre imagination. He tries to keep Lenore away, but she wants desperately to be seen by all. And she needs Edgar to fully embrace her, in all her strangeness, so that she can fully evolve into his guiding muse. Will Edgar stay anchored to his foster parents and his dreams of marrying the beautiful Elmyra? Will Lenore become the raven she was meant to be and lead Edgar to finally, fully express his creativity?
Is it any good?
Fantasy fans who love the dark side will enjoy this chilling exploration of teen Edgar Allan Poe as he struggles with who he is and what inspires him, however macabre it may be. The Raven's Tale is pretty macabre, for sure. Readers who already know and love Poe's work will enjoy this spine-tingling look at what he may have been like before the fame. And those who aren't already familiar with Poe will be intrigued and no doubt spooked by this introduction to one of the horror genre's true masters.
Romance, friendship, family conflicts, and more come into play, too. Lenore, the physical manifestation of Poe's dark muse, is an intriguing way of providing some female perspective on events, and she also provides an effective counterpoint to Poe's development as an artist. Occasionally things slow down or drag out a bit too long for a life story when the outcome is already well known, but things pick up again soon enough. It's thoroughly steeped in the gruesome and the macabre, so squeamish or sensitive readers beware.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Raven's Tale. Are stories and poems like Poe's a safe way to explore the darker side of human nature? Is reading it different than seeing it in movies or videos? How so, or why not?
Is Edgar as he's depicted here an alcoholic? What about his foster father? Does the depiction of drinking seem realistic? How are the consequences of drinking different now from what they were in Poe's time?
Did you learn anything new or surprising about Edgar Allan Poe? Have you read much of his work? Which stories or poems do you like best? If you haven't read anything of his besides what's in this book, would you like to now?
- Author: Cat Winters
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, History, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: April 16, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love horror
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.