Trick-or-treating. Costume parties. Horror movie marathons. There are a lot of ways to celebrate Halloween, but everyone knows the best way to ring in the haunting holiday is with the help of scary stories. This year, the New York Public Library has made it even easier to do just that with the surprise Oct. 31 release of a new Insta Novel, Edgar Allan Poe's famous narrative poem "The Raven."
Released at midnight on the Library's Instagram account, this unique Insta Novel version of "The Raven" takes Poe's classic poem and pairs it with eerie animations so readers can enjoy the hair-raising narrative in a whole new way, right from their phones. If you thought the "Nevermore" story was creepy before, just wait until you tap your way through this chilling digital interpretation of it.
Produced by Psop and Studio AKA, "The Raven" Insta Novel, according to the Library, "takes readers on an ominous procession through a stark psychological landscape where the differing perspectives of both the Raven and Poe’s protagonist are depicted. The viewpoints steadily intercut and converge as the animation builds to its disquieting climax, as the door creaks open revealing "darkness there and nothing more.'"
Just when you thought this classic tale couldn't get any more unsettling, it seems that the Library found a way to do just that. The Insta Novel's starling black-and-white graphics combined with the bold flashing text work together with the original poem to make the supernatural story of lost love and madness even more chilling, more eerie, more frightening than ever before.
"The Raven" is the latest installment of the Library's Insta Novels project. Launched in August 2018 in partnership with Mother in New York, an independent advertising and creative agency, Insta Novels puts actual classic stories into the palm of readers' hands via Instagram's popular Stories feature. It's goal: "To inspire a new generation of readers to engage with literature in a modern way."
The planned three book digital series kicked off with Lewis Carroll's beloved novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which was followed by the chilling Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." The last installment, Franz Kafka's iconic nonella The Metamorphosis, will be released in late 2018. "The Raven" was a surprise Halloween release, and a welcome one at that.
If you haven't caught one of NYPL's Insta Novels yet or don't know how to use Instagram's Stories feature, here is how it works: the full book, short story, or novella is uploaded to the Library's Instagram Stories. Complete with engaging illustrations, unique design components, stills, and videos, the digital book is available for readers to flip through at their own pace using their thumbs to hold each page. If a reader lets the whole book run without stopping, they see an animation.
Pretty cool, right? But that isn't even the best part. Because of Instagram's Highlights feature, each work of literature is saved on the Library's account page where readers can access a new kind of digital bookshelf whenever they want.
According to the Library, over 60,000 readers have completed the program's first two Insta Novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and "The Yellow Wallpaper." Their Instagram account also gained over 100,000 followers since the introduction of this unique digital book series. With today's surprise release of "The Raven," it is safe to assume both of those numbers will continue to grow.
Halloween is the perfect excuse to read "The Raven," and now with the help of the NYPL's Insta Novels, you don't even need a physical copy of the poem to do it. All you have to do is log onto Instagram, find the NYPL's account, and click your way through the creepy classic, one illustrated "Nevermore" at a time.