Right at Home: Quoth the raven, ‘Happy Halloween’

Edgar Allan Poe and Halloween are enmeshed like cobwebs on a lamppost.

In classics like “The Cask of Amontillado,” ”The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” ”The Masque of the Red Death” and more, the master of horror fiction gave us imagery — sinister masquerade balls, mysterious catacombs, menacing city streets — that have long inspired Halloween aficionados and lovers of all things spooky.

Retailers have plenty to offer for scary decorations or a Poe-inspired Halloween party:


Perhaps the most iconic Poe symbol, the raven is easy to spot around Halloween. You can find large and small decorative versions of black birds that can be placed on buffet tables, bookshelves and front porches.

Pottery Barn‘s got metal crows for outdoor display; faux crows for indoor use have real feathers. (www.potterybarn.com)

At Crate & Barrel, there are plates and napkins with an all-over raven graphic, as well as string lights and carved wooden ravens. (www.crateandbarrel.com )

A black feather wreath makes a dramatic statement on a mantel. Or run a black boa down the length of a serving table. You’ll find both in many Halloween décor stores, but you can make your own, too.

HGTV.com has instructions for creating a wreath using a straw form, and a black feather trim and boa from a crafts supply store. (www.hgtv.com)

Raven masks will turn even a non-costume dinner party into something intriguingly chic. Find versions both simple and elaborate crafted of paper, leather, lace or felt on Etsy.com.


Poe-themed decor also might include a touch of the literary: a long white glove with ink stains on it, vintage books stacked haphazardly, a tattered tablecloth. If you don’t have copies of Poe’s books, piles of black-covered volumes will set the tone. (In a pinch, cover any books with black paper.) White feather “quill pens” can be arranged in little spice jars decorated with ink labels.

Buy a porcelain marker and write a line or two from your favorite Poe piece on some inexpensive white plates or serving trays. Or use metallic permanent markers to add a phrase to cotton or linen napkins.

Singe the edges of parchment paper printed with a poem or paragraph that you’ve written out or typed, using either an old typewriter or a vintage font from a computer. The same technique can be used to create invitations and menus.


Ebony taffeta or silk, tarnished metals, candlesticks and black wrought iron bring the Victorian gloom to life, so to speak.

At www.spirithalloween.com, you’ll find faux-black, wrought-iron fencing a la “The Fall of theHouse of Usher.”

Midwest Living magazine has ideas for a Poe-themed dinner party, including using pages from a Poe book as placemats, having each guest read a selected passage, and providing little chocolate (“Tell-Tale”) hearts as favors. (www.midwestliving.com)

Black LED tapers and black candelabras are at Pier 1 Imports. And creepy trees can be found at Grandin Road, along with harlequin pumpkins for a masquerade vibe. (www.pier1.com ;www.grandinroad.com )

CafePress has wine charms printed with Poe’s image or words, as well as serving trays, beer steins and glasses. There are pillows, ornaments or tiles with his portrait, or vintage illustrations from the books. (www.cafepress.com )

Wicked’s Raging & Lull soy candle comes in an elegant, matte-black glass pot etched with a crow, and is scented with cinnamon, clove and vanilla. (www.gentsupplyco.com )



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