Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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As Halloween grows near, so the number of horror-related apps grows in the Apple App Store. And, as animated/interactive books have proven successful on the iPad, it was only a matter of time until a developer tried to fuse the old world with the new - bridging the gap between Poe's 19th century gothic poem The Raven and the digital age. The results are decidedly mixed, but I hope the developer continues to refine and enhance this core idea. Poe's works lend themselves readily to the iPad.
If you're familiar with Poe's The Raven, there is little here that will surprise or even delight you. The text is presented in landscape-only book mode, with the poem's text on the left side of the screen and the classic woodcut illustrations of Gustave Dore on the right. The illustrations themselves are not exactly interactive, though some pages do allow you to "fade in" or superimpose new woodcut images onto the old ones. Additionally, some pages have elements such as a floating lamp, or, yes, a raven that can be moved about on the screen using either your fingers or the accelerometer within the iPad. As the developer himself says, these are hardly more than parlor tricks, but they do strangely engage you, if only briefly.
Of more substance are the literary notes that can be accessed by touching the bust of Pallas at the bottom of some pages. These explain some of Poe's more arcane mythological references and define some of his more archaic vocabulary, and are a welcome addition, but are too few and far between. Perhaps an update could add even more of these "pop-up" facts, as they greatly contribute to a deeper understanding of the work as a whole.
For a simple, only slightly interactive poem, $1.99 seems a bit pricey by App Store standards. The addition of other, similarly-enhanced works might make this a more appealing purchase, as several poems bundled together could be very useful, particularly in an educational setting. An accompanying spoken-word performance along with the text might also enhance the package significantly. At the moment, however, this is an app that I might enjoy once, only to return "Nevermore."