Pine Hills High School

Hi guys!

When I originally wrote Pretty in Black, I had zero reader-fan engagement. And now  I have a glorious opportunity to earn that!

One of the very best aspects about rewriting this series is getting to share with you SO MANY THINGS as I go along.

I had this idea to begin a brand new thing on my blog called World Building Wednesdays. I was thinking that, while we're all waiting on me to finish these books, why not share with you a little sneak peek into The World of Nevermore, so you can kind of get an idea about what all I've changed and/or added to the book as well as explore the world a little bit before the books release. 

In case you missed my first post in January, be sure to check that one out too!

Welcome to Pine Hills!

This week's post is all about Eleanor's high school.

Some quick notes and commentary before we get started on the tour: 

I knew right away before I began rewriting these books that everything I wrote would have one primary goal: to make you feel as though you were really there. This got me thinking about every single aspect of the novel from every angle, which led me to digging up tips on World Building.

Everything in this book has brand new world building, y'all. Everything. The clothes they wear, food they eat, weapons they use, the rooms they enter/exit/do things in.

Nevermore has really super-duper fantastical world building which is why I'm calling it The World of Nevermore. I've even invented the Evermore Lexicon because there are new words related to this world that are unique to Nevermore and the Evermores.

(I will be sharing glimpses of Nevermore further along in the WBW posts.)

Not all books need to go so in-depth about everything, but this one absolutely does. But at the same time, I also knew that if I was going to do this, I needed to somehow tie the descriptions into another aspect of the book: character development, atmosphere, theme, plot, etc, or they wouldn't work or be necessary.

Every choice in a book has to count in some shape, form, or fashion. For example: showing Eleanor's cheer practices. Why is this important? There will be an entire post on this in the future, but for starters, everything we see her do, all of those tricks and stunts are crucial to her character arc; in Raven in the Grave, she will be doing some of those exact same stunts during the sword fight/battle scenes, but on a more badass fantasy level. Flying back tucks for the win!)

The woven-in descriptions of Pine Hills High (all of which I've dispersed between or during actions so it seems like a natural part of the story and not just a massive info-dump to the reader) all tie into the theme and the atmosphere of the book.

The atmosphere of the book is spooky and haunting, and totally Edgar Allan Poe inspired! So Pine Hills High fits right in!

I wanted to create a school that I wished I could've attended when I was a teenager, and one that readers could also dream about attending.

And as you might know, all High schools aren't created equally, in real-life, and in fiction stories. In some of the more recent books I've read lately, the teens are walking down empty colorless hallways with only the brief mentioning of a locker slamming or combination spinning. I wanted something a little different for my own book world.

I wanted Eleanor's high school to be as atmospheric as the rest of the book. I didn't want her walking down a generic hallway. And, I wanted you to be able to walk down the hallways of Pine Hills High with her.

I think this will add an extra level of excitement to the book.

So here we go!

Welcome to Pine Hills High School—Home of the Black Ravens.

The Brief History of Pine Hills High: it was “ . . . originally built to become a Gothic cathedral, but because it was being built on an ancient burial ground that many locals complained was haunted, they stopped construction midway through and built the cathedral—St. Valentine's—a block away; someone else resumed the plans for the cathedral, but changed the design. This building you're sitting in right now was the first structure they completed that year, and it was turned into a private school for the royal class.

"The construction continued, eventually resulting in several buildings connected by walkways in a collegiate Gothic style. Your school almost became Pine Hills University. However, the demographics of this small town ensured its fate, and here you are, at Pine Hills High.”

 —as explained by Eleanor's Gothic Architecture & Arts teacher during their Gothic Revival studies in the Gravesgard building.

Yep! You heard that correctly! Along with her basic core classes and cheerleading, Eleanor is taking two fun electives! Greek Mythology and Gothic Architecture & Arts.

Okay, so raise of hands: who wants to enroll at Pine Hills High?!  


There's an iron gate at the front of the school, and when it parts to allow you in, the raven at the top divides in half. (This image isn't the gate, but it might give you an idea of what the real gate looks like :)

Pine Hills High is Home of the Black Ravens! *\O/* GO BLACK RAVENS!

Purple ¦ Black | White 

There are two primary buildings which are mentioned besides the main entrance, and they are: Ravens Hall, and the Gravesgard building. 

Photo credit: guldfisken via Visual Hunt / CC BY

The buildings are separated by cobblestone walkways and some of them look like really large mausoleums—Ravens Hall, for example; it is three stories high and has weathered stone staircases leading to each level.


Ravens Hall has the Ralph Raven gymnasium where pep rallies and after school cheer practice takes place. A flight of ravens is painted along one wall of that gymnasium, above the bleachers, and the GO BLACK RAVENS banner is on the other side. In the center of the glossy hardwood floor is the Ralph the Raven mascot, and on each side of him, on opposite ends of the gymnasium, are two bright purple raven talon-claws.

These same talon-claws, in black and purple and in smaller size, can also be found on the floor in some of the hallways, which have bright purple lockers on one side and black lockers on the other.  

Photo via Visualhunt

The main entrance has towers. Instead of a ringing bell, Students are ushered to first class, signaled to lunch, and dismissed from school at the end of the day by the donging or gonging bells in the tower. The ringing bell only sounds between classes of the day.

As Eleanor changes classes, she often passes by this arcade that gazes over into the courtyard.



The tall narrow arched windows have clear glass instead of stained, and it glints with a blue tint.

Photo credit: Jolie-Julie via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA


The Gravesgard Courtyard has crumbling weather-worn headstones marking graves that were never excavated, and from Ellie's seat in Gothic Architecture & Arts class, she can look out the window and see these graves below. Sometimes, crows and ravens land among the stones.


Crows and ravens fly around the school a lot too!

The Gothic patio outside Ravens Hall is where the Cheerleaders often hang out before and between classes, or after school before cheer practice; sometimes, you can find them here during lunch hour. Other students hang out here too, but mostly this has been claimed as cheerleader territory. The other students lounge in the domed student common room that has a purple and white checkerboard floor, a wall of trophies behind glass— (Pine Hills High loves to win!)—, and really comfortable couches and chairs for study time!

I chose these specific locations to describe in the book because throughout the series really awesome scenes—plot defining and death-defying!—scenes take place in these locations. Especially the Ralph Raven gymnasium! We have a three-pointer on that one!


The Ralph Raven gymnasium is the location where three of my favorite scenes take place! One in each book. If only Eleanor could get through one cheer practice or pep rally without something eerie or supernatural happening!  

So! This is just a little bit of the awesome atmosphere of Pine Hills High School that you will be getting to experience in the book! Hope you enjoyed this post!

PS: The beauty in world building an entire school is that I can use this same location in more than one of my YA Books! Same school, different characters, new stories! Just an idea :)