Raven’s Rest is a (fictional) inn located in the (fictional) town of Banning, Illinois, located along the (not fictional) Rock River. Among its other attractions, the Raven’s Rest has a reputation of being haunted…a reputation that Michael Cook quickly learns is well deserved.
So this lovely little inn with 11 suites—all named after poems or stories of Edgar Allan Poe—joins the company of other locations in northern Illinois known to be home to ghostly apparitions. I’ve visited several of these locations, because that’s the sort of thing I do. And some odd things have happened on those visits.
I was giving a talk at the Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford, about writing and ghosts and such, and a person in the audience was taking pictures. I’m not sure why. Who would want a pic of my mug? But she was, and for some reason she took a picture of the seats behind her. She didn’t think anything of it until she looked later. And in the picture, at the back of the auditorium, was a shadowy figure in a seat far from everyone else. The only trouble was, that no one was sitting there at any time, and the person in the picture was just a shadow—they had no features at all!
My favorite haunted spot, however, is a private residence called Willow Creek Farm. Rarely have I visited this place owned by a man named Al that something weird hasn’t happened. One time I was there with a ghost hunting group, and they had set up their cameras and recorders, which they were going to leave running while everyone went out to dinner. It was winter, and we were all standing around the dining room table, putting on our coats, when a chair (which was several feet in front of me) suddenly toppled over backward. We could find no reason for the chair to fall!
Another time at Willow Creek, I there with several friends. We thought we’d try to communicate with any ghosts present by loosening the end of a flashlight, so that it was easy to turn the light on and off. Unfortunately, the only flashlight we could find was dented, and the end couldn’t be loosened. It took a good twist to turn that sucker on, so I tossed it aside, knowing it wouldn’t work for our purposes. Undaunted, we tried to contact any spirits that wanted to speak to us. We asked if anyone was there…and the flashlight turned on. We asked for the spirit to turn off the flashlight…and the light went out. One of the prominent ghosts at the farm is called Sarah, so we asked if we were communicating with Sarah…and the light came back on! Remember, this wasn’t an easy flashlight to turn on and off. Cue the scary music.
Michael has similar experiences in Raven’s Rest…and much more. The ghosts at the Raven’s Rest Inn are waiting for more visitors. I hope you’ll be one of them!
Raven’s Nest by Stephen Osborne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska
Michael Cook has left his abusive lover and settled in the small town of Banning, Illinois. Having nowhere else to go, he checks into the Raven’s Rest Inn and soon learns that the haunted reputation of the hotel is well deserved. Michael gets a job at a local café, where he meets Trey Ramsey. Though Michael has misgivings about starting up a new relationship, Trey seems to be the complete opposite of Michael’s controlling ex, so he decides to give Trey a chance.
Life at the Raven’s Rest becomes increasingly frightening when the ghost of Coleman Hollis appears in Michael’s room. Coleman seems to want something from Michael, and the mystery deepens when Michael discovers he’s the spitting image of Coleman’s lover from years ago. Together, Michael and Trey must discover why Coleman’s spirit is drawn to the Raven’s Rest—and to Michael.
Stephen Osborne lives in rural Illinois with Christine, a Border Terrier mix with a diva complex. In addition to writing, seeing musicals in Chicago, and losing at Monopoly, Stephen sometimes spends cold, shivery nights in haunted locations, just because he likes to.