Reviewed by Sarina
TITLE: Raven’s Rest
AUTHOR: Stephen Osborne
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2016
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.
Wow, this was such a good story! I was originally drawn to it because of the setting, a haunted inn nestled within a small town in Illinois. (I grew up in a small town in Illinois, though not quite this small and the only haunted house I knew of was my own, but still.) Despite the setting being what first grabbed my attention, the story itself very quickly took center stage and I was just completely hooked.
Most of the ghost stories I’ve read have dealt with spirits that died at least a hundred years ago but Raven’s Rest was different in that the ghost Michael is seeing died in the 1980s. I loved how easy it was to relate to the ghost, Coleman, and what Michael was seeing, because I grew up with some of the things mentioned and shown when learning about Coleman’s life. I also really liked how Michael came to be involved with the search for the truth and the connection it gave him with the town and Coleman specifically.
The mystery itself was enjoyable, though I did have the ‘who done it’ and why pegged really early on with one minor exception. That didn’t bother me in the slightest, however, because besides the mystery of what happened to Coleman, this is Michael’s story and I loved that very much. All the way through the book you get to see as Michael really comes into his own straight out of an abusive relationship. Between finding himself again, learning to trust not only himself but another man with his heart, and his desire to make things right I just fell in love with Michael. Trey was fantastic, too! He tries so hard to portray himself as a total badass but in truth is an absolute sweetheart. These two were such a good pair and the love and just general caring between them was so very apparent.
I just loved this! The story was engaging and the paranormal elements were really well incorporated from start to finish. This is totally going on my re-read list and I may have to make it a tradition to read it at least once every year as I doubt I’ll ever get bored with it. Great first read from this author; I can’t wait to see what else he has!