Room of Shadows by Ronald Kidd
Review by Lauren
source: copy from ALA17; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Ever since his dad left, David Cray has had anger issues. So after he beats up school bully Jake Bragg, his mom grounds him in their creepy new house. Bored, David discovers a secret room with an old-fashioned desk, a chest, and a carving of a raven. Suddenly he’s having strange dreams about the room and the house, and violence seems to follow him wherever he goes. Who is the Raven who is taking responsibility for these violent pranks? And why do the pranks resemble Poe’s stories?
Review: Before attending ALA this past June, I made sure to look at all the authors who were attending to see if there were any books I was interested in. I came across Room of Shadows and was immediately intrigued by this middle grade novel, and luckily, I was able to get a signed ARC at the conference.
David Cray is in middle school, dealing with his anger at his dad leaving and him having to live in a new house, which happens to be run down and really freaky looking. It’s not just looks either. It’s not long before David realizes that the house might be haunted…or something. Really, he’s not sure what is happening. There’s a secret room he can enter through his closet, full of writing materials and a raven statue. While this is certainly weird, things get even creepier when people David dislikes or has confrontations with start to end up in scenarios that could easily kill them. Each time, there is a poem left behind, signed only the Raven.
Whether you read the official summary or not, it might be obvious to prolific readers that things are starting resembling the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. In fact, the deadly scenarios I mention earlier are taken right from the pages of Poe’s work. I’m a big fan of Poe – his life and his work – so it was intriguing to see how the author melded these things into a suspenseful middle grade novel. I think Kidd did a great job introducing Poe’s work in this unique story. I thought the overall plot was done well – I was really interested in the Raven and how they came to be. This is a quick, exciting read!