I am excited to announce my stop on the Ravens Gathering Blog Tour – especially after reading such great reviews and discussions about the book throughout the past few days. A big thanks to Kelly from Love Books Group for setting up the Tour; check out the poster below for previous and future stops.
And thank you to author Graeme Cumming and Kelly from LBG for providing me with the ebook of Ravens Gathering – you can order the book [here] – and as always, all thoughts below are my own.
Content Warning: Violence, suicide, murder, rape, incest
“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 recognized 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 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 only a select few know why the ravens are gathering.
With a 1989 setting in a small village in the UK called Ravens Gathering, the grunge and turning-tides atmosphere of this novel is to be expected. The title and name of the town is packed with mystery; a swarm (or gathering) of jet black birds is unsettling to most (to this reader, especially), as is the speculation as to why anyone would give a quaint village such a name.
Eerie accidents, guarded conversations, and odd character appearances adequately complete the book’s spooky ambiance. Meanwhile, the exploration of morality and decisions made as adults and humans makes the motivations of characters, and the characters themselves, more accessible to the reader. Family, marriage, loss, success, failure; by realistically fleshing out the characters in Ravens Gathering, Graeme Cumming makes it difficult to turn away from them. It may be challenging to connect with the big picture events going on in the village, but most of us know what it’s like to battle with yourself and seek out resolutions for further self development and satisfaction. The incorporation of these elements is what gives the book its literary edge.
Using changing – and often obscure – perspectives to build questions and allow nightmarish feelings to slowly creep in, Graeme Cumming unleashes unbelievable truths, answers, and more nightmarish feelings in a torrent of exposures and events. The genius way that the author switches perspective from chapter to chapter, usually without immediately letting on whose perspective is being read, became fully realized after one particular sequence of chapters. The set up was clear, the expected steaminess ensued, and then the horrific third step elevated the reader’s role from an onlooker, to in step with the characters as another victim of shame and inner torment after discovering what actually occurred.
Ravens Gathering is a book that takes on the dark, the mysterious, the distasteful, and the curious with delightful and anticipatory prose. The setting was well described and all five senses were catered to; the only thing that feels like it is missing is a sequel (might I suggest inserted in place of the epilogue?).
Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country. He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.