Kelly Creagh Nevermore
543 pp. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4424-0200-3 (Hardcover)
(From the publisher) ” ‘And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore! ‘
— from “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
At once an homage to one of America’s greatest writers and a page-turning psychological mystery that is equal parts horror, humor, and romance, NEVERMORE is the story of Varen — a Poe-fan and goth — and Isobel — a cheerleader and unlikely heroine. When a Lit. project pairs the two together, Isobel finds herself steadily swept into Varen’s world, one that he has created in his notebook and in his mind, one where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel slowly learns that dreams can be much more powerful than she’d ever expected, and that pain and despair come in all sorts of shades. As labels of “goth” and “cheerleader” fade away, she sees more in Varen than a tall, pale outcast, and a consuming romance is braced against the ever-clearer horror that the most terrifying realities are those within our own minds.
When Isobel has a single chance to rescue Varen from the shadows of his own nightmares, will she be able to save him — and herself?”
This is an awesome story with an original plot; I never expected to find a book using Poe’s influence in such a creative way. Poe’s writing is dark and eerie so it compliments Varen’s character very well. We discover Varen’s love for Poe when he and Isobel get paired up for their American author research paper. Besides the enjoying Poe’s influence on the mood of the story, I really liked reading excerpts of his works as Isobel did and learning more information about his mysterious death. It’s obvious that Creagh really did her homework when writing Nevermore. And I have to admit, as an English teacher, I was pretty excited when Isobel encountered a scene that took place in Poe’s story “The Cask of Amontillado” because I teach that to my freshmen this trimester. I can’t wait to tell them about this book!
As Isobel becomes more involved with Varen and the project strange things start happening to her. This element of the story and Creagh’s well-timed clues and pieces of foreshadowing kept me turning the pages. I was hoping to finish this before school officially started, but since I didn’t, I decided to make SSR last a little while longer so I could read more during school!
I am really impressed with the way Isobel’s school atmosphere is portrayed. At times I felt like I was reading a contemporary realistic novel and not a paranormal fantasy. I was never a cheerleader, but I did participate in sports and many of my friends were cheerleaders, and Creagh’s description of the team and the coach are pretty accurate. I know many coaches that won’t let it slide if you miss a practice, and the “catiness” of the girls is accurate too. I’m sure teens will appreciate how true-to-life the high school side of this book is.
My only complaint about Nevermore is that I started to get really confused around the last 150 pages or so. Isobel is learning more about Varen and the strange things happening around her, but new and confusing details and settings were added at the same time. I wish we would have known the truth behind everything a little sooner, or maybe had more clarification on what exactly was happening to Isobel and Varen during that part of the book. (I’m trying my best to avoid spoilers, so I’m sorry if this isn’t clear enough.) Besides that, I loved this book and I’m looking forward to the second one. I know my students want to read this because a couple of them have already asked to borrow it when I put it on my shelf on Monday!