As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”
A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but their unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences. And no one can explain why the ravens are gathering.
Ravens Gathering twists and turns as the truth is gradually exposed in a gripping thriller with a supernatural edge to it.
This is a very ambitious first novel, and on the whole Graeme Cumming does a fantastic job, creating a novel which is both highly imaginative, and unusual in many respects. The dialogue is believable, as is the detail in the various innocuous, homely settings: the pub, the farms, and this close knit English village.
Ravens Gathering does a shape shift through several different genres, embracing fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, police procedural, thriller, and horror.
The main character Martin Gates returns to this community, his home after a long time abroad. Martin’s reappearance is not welcomed with open arms by his family, in fact they appear to view his reappearance as something to avoid rather than embrace. To begin with Martin is a difficult character to engage with. His character is somewhat obtuse, but there are reasons for this, which become apparent as we read the book and realise why he is the way he is. We do get a sense of his outrage about being so unloved and uncared for by his family, and yet to begin with we have no idea why this the case. We can only speculate, but there’s no way that our speculations will be correct.
Equally, Tanya, and Ian aren’t particularly appealing either, and neither are Martin’s family. The further we get into the book it seems more and more likely that everyone in Ravens Gathering are flawed in some unique and individual way. The key words that initially come to mind are: selfish, shady, desperate for sexual diversions, or damaged in some way.
The story unfolds slowly with a considerable amount of detail, making events more real. Shocking and disturbing revelations in the latter part of the novel don’t come as a complete surprise given the underlying sense of a community where something is terribly amiss. Nevertheless I had no idea of what was coming, and the shock factor of what did surprised, and appalled me in equal measure. This is a novel where you can’t help but go WTF!!!!!
The characters for the most part are not particularly lovable which initially distances the reader from them but that’s not meant as a criticism, in fact under the circumstances having read the story one realises why this is the case.
The bad guy is about as horrible, wicked, and debauched a villain as you can get.
This is a very complicated story that remains in your psyche for some time afterwards. It winds its way stretching the believability of the fantastical elements to the max, edging the story to its conclusion.
My recommendation: Definitely an author to watch out for, a well written, confident debut. Read if you like mysterious thrillers with a fantastical, but deeply shocking element.
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My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in in exchange for a review.
If we were having coffee I’d say it’s lovely to see you again. Would you like a coffee, or a cup of tea? We’d both decide on a tall glass of latte, a milky froth of gorgeousness. I’d invite you into my sunken lounge and I’d play a little ditty on the piano for you. It would be just a few notes as I’m no maestro! We’d laugh and then I’d tell you all about my week. I’ve had so much excitement this Easter break that perhaps I need some herbal tea to calm me down rather than a cup of hot frothy coffee!
This will be a long chit chat so get comfy. If you’re a beach, culture, shopping vulture and a book fan I’ll sure you’ll enjoy it, so settle down on the settee next to me and let me tell you all about it.
It was my mum’s birthday on the 2nd of April. We were invited to her birthday get together in Brighton! What fun, I just love spending time with family and visiting Brighton. We had our very own tour guide – my eldest daughter is a student at Sussex University in Brighton.
There were many highlights of our stay and being a keen writer I’ll hope you forgive me if I use a few titles to create a bookish atmosphere.
The beach, the seafront, and the pier. When I arrived with my two daughters the sun shone, (so knowing how changeable UK weather can be,) we took no chances and headed straight for the beach. There was no hint of the later evening rain that would arrive. We braved the seagulls and had our lunch on the seafront. Chips with everything! Our lunch was simple, just hamburgers and hot dogs and chips but it tasted wonderful -perhaps it was the sea air. We sat by the children’s mini fairground which was a bit of a mistake… it was a tad noisy!!
I took some photos of the pier and the seafront on our last day – but it wasn’t so sunny, and it was really quiet!
The Royal Pavilion. This was breathtakingly beautiful inside and out. So if you are ever in Brighton make sure you actually go inside – it’s well worth the admission fee. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. The decor inside is sumptuous, full of chandeliers, dragons, a grand piano, a drummer boy clock, the Rock Clock, and Chinese Court official figures made out of unfired clay. There are many magnificent rooms to see: a Long Gallery, the Banqueting room, and Banqueting room Gallery, the Great Kitchen, a Saloon, a Music room, The King’s and Queen’s apartments ….. We hired an audio guide device so that we could find out all about King George IV – he was quite the lad – he had lots of mistresses and kept this palace as his pleasure pad when he was young.
After all that sumptuousness we took a detour to go shopping making our way through the lanes.
The Lanes. Cute little shopping alleys. These are well worth wandering down and discovering what they have to offer. In general, Brighton is a pretty good bet for shopping, whether it’s the usual chain shops you’re after or something a bit different.
People Watching. I’m a terrible Nosy Parker -it’s a requirement if you write! Opposite our hotel window I spied a covered seated area. I spent some time peering out of the window wondering about the people who sat there. It wasn’t a bus stop, yet people sat and did the most extraordinary things, thinking that they were unobserved! HA HA!! One young lad spent all his time picking his nails, biting them and fidgeting – perhaps he had just fallen out with his girlfriend? Or maybe he was on his way to a job interview – who knows…. I have to say when he left and a paper bag took his place I was a bit disappointed! Still there was the wide expanse of beach to observe – a man walking backwards and forwards with a metal detector caught my attention. I saw him two days in a row, one day on his own and the second day with a reluctant younger person, (perhaps his grandson,) who was carrying a spade. I wonder if he found anything?
The Crack in the Ceiling. Oh, before I forget to mention this! Let me tell you about our room. It had a fantastic view of the seafront but it had this sinister crack in the ceiling.
Well that crack came to haunt us.
It all began when I stepped into the shower. Suddenly I heard my daughter shouting for me. I wondered why she was bothering me while I was in the shower. Couldn’t she wait until I’d finished? No. She couldn’t. And with good reason as it turned out! It was an emergency!
Water was flowing out of said crack onto our hotel room floor!
It took her a few attempts to make me hear her. Realising that this was an emergency I quickly grabbed a towel, and dressed. She phoned for help. To their credit a member of the hotel staff came very quickly, while my hair was still dripping, (it kind of reminded me of a Carry On film, with me just out of the shower,) and offered to upgrade us to a better room. Which we did! Luckily the new room had no cracks, and there were no more incidents. Though the lock on the door didn’t work, but this is no impediment to ghosts! The Old Ship hotel is a very old hotel………apparently the violinist Paginini stayed at the hotel in 1831. His playing was so mesmerising that it was rumoured that he sold his soul to the devil! Later I discovered random items of our clothing that hadn’t been anywhere near the dripping ceiling had managed to get wet. Somebody was playing a devilish game! Namely, my daughter’s coat, and my bra. Both were very wet. How strange.
I was beginning to think The Old Ship Hotel was haunted and its resident ghost was playing a trick on us!
The Rant. We hired a taxi to take us to a Korean restaurant as my dad isn’t quite as fast on his pins as he used to be. On the way there a four seater cab arrived instead of a five seater. I managed to squeeze in the back.
Luckily the journey was short, but when I opened the door I fell out!
No harm done. But the rant really started on the way back. We hired a taxi to take us back to the hotel. This large vehicle appeared with ample seating area but …… there was a high step up to the cab. When we arrived at the hotel the driver didn’t help my dad out or open the door for him – I thought this wasn’t very kind – he is a very sweet silver haired fellow, aged eighty seven. So I asked my daughter to do so. The taxi driver spent all his time on his mobile phone, (I hope it was hands free.) In fact I couldn’t see what he looked like, and then he charged us double the cost and didn’t help. UGH…. Why are some taxi drivers so unfriendly and unhelpful? Sorry rant over… Then on the way back we got another taxi back home as my hubby was away and couldn’t pick us up. This guy seemed polite and helpful but pretty silent. No conversation. I noticed his badge looked odd. His face had been erased from the photo. Faded by the sun perhaps? Or was he an axe murderer? I’ve been reading too much Stephen King recently… I really must give horror a break. Back to YA for a while… yes and no. More about books later …..
The Last Day. We went down to the pier on the last day. Here are some more of my photos, including family ones, and an embarrassing one of me in a woolly hat with a pom pom on top! Keep on scrolling down if you want a laugh!
The Final Story – alias what am I reading?
Ravens Gathering. At the moment I’m reading Ravens Gathering, a thriller from our very own Graeme Cumming at http://graemecumming.net/
The Yearbook Committee. AYA novel by Sarah Ayoub which I won via Jade @ Scatterbooker: https://scatterbooker.wordpress.com/. It arrived on the morning of my departure to Brighton, (all the way from Australia,) so I took it with me to the seaside! It is a very chatty book, so if you like a lot of dialogue this book’s for you!
I took a photo of it in my hotel room for my Instagram account with a cute folded towel and toiletries:
Two very different books, but I’m enjoying them both – more about these two to come.
Now here’s my Instagram photo of Full Dark No Stars:
Full Dark No Stars. I’ve just finished Stephen King’s short story compilation, and that Swiss Dark Chocolate Mountain bar didn’t last long! Full Dark No Stars was awesome but could seriously give you nightmares. The chocolate was delicious!
Oh by the way the lovely Jade@ Scatterbooker is doing a university Instagram project:
Bookstagram Wiz :’Bookstagram Wiz and our aim is to set up a community for #bookstagrammers on Instagram, Tumblr,Twitter.’
Anyway my youngest daughter and I are now back home safe and sound. My eldest is back at University. By the time we arrived home it was time for dinner but I didn’t feel like eating and neither did my daughter. We had eaten so much while we were away in Brighton that I couldn’t stomach another drop. Well I lie I had a cracker and cheese and that was pretty much that.
So that’s about it apart from whisking my daughter off to Ely to get her prom dress fitted. It’s a bit overly long. Like me she’s petite. It looked really pretty when the seamstress had pinned it up. I shall be doing a Prom Fashion feature about that in July so keep an eye out for that.
Hope you enjoyed my Weekend Coffee Share post, sorry for hogging the conversation. I’m back to work next week, so no more excitement for a while…. sigh… Oh I lie…. one more exciting event to come. This weekend I’m helping out at the Literary Festival in Cambridge so more about that in my next Weekend Coffee Share post.
What about you – have you had an exciting time recently? Have you read any good books?Visited anywhere interesting?
Weekend Coffee share is a coffee link up and chat post via Diana at Part-Time monster. Here are her links to find out more: