Review: Raven's Rest by Stephen Osborne

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 cafĂ©, 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.

I so love a good ghost story and Stephen Osborne delivered in Raven’s Rest. The MC’s were charming and unique, the supporting characters added a lot to the story and the ghosties were perfectly heartbreaking.

Michael has broken away from his emotionally abusive boyfriend and has settled in the small town of Banning, Illinois. Michael has no real plan, he’s not sure how long he’s going to be in town and ends up staying at a beautiful and allegedly haunted B&B temporarily, The Raven’s Rest. Don’t let the title mislead you, the story is not Poe focused as one might assume, but the Inn’s names’ connotation does add to the creep factor very well.

Michael becomes friends with the townsfolk as he settles in and manages to find himself some work at the little towns’ diner. He also develops himself a bit of a crush on one of the other employees, Trey Ramsey. I loved Trey. He’s cocky with a self-deprecating sense of humor that makes him utterly charming. I loved the conviction Trey showed with his interest in Michael. It was the perfect level of flirty sincerity and as they got to know one another it lent Michael strength. Trey had respect for Michael and his damaged self-confidence and Michael knew it. Michael was able to begin to get his feet back under him with support from Trey and I really enjoyed reading about Michael evolving into his own man again.

Now, on to the ghost story . . . .

If you’re easily oogie boogied out, you’ll still be able to handle Raven’s Rest. The ghost is more heartbreaking than scary and the fact that Michael isn’t freaked out keeps the creep factor to a minimum. Honestly, there are a few earthly corporeal bodies that are way scarier than Coleman Hollis. I LOVE to be scared and that’s the only thing I wanted a little more of from Raven’s Rest, but at the same time, the balance of ghost to story worked to the overall arc and tone of the story really well so that’s really on me.

Coleman disappeared in the 80’s and according to his father, he’s allegedly married with kids somewhere far away. The story is just vaguely truthful enough to fly. It was a little odd that no one tried to find Coleman it was as if he was a friendless island in the town and I didn’t get that impression, so that seemed slightly unfinished to me. The big clue is however, Coleman is the ghost who becomes attached to Michael.

As the story progresses we learn why and that brings on the heartbreaking tale of Coleman’s disappearance. Coleman was not the only victim and Michael and Trey are on a mission to right some very old wrongs. This is where the completely awesome secondary characters come in and Stephen Osborne does a supporting cast like few can. If you’ve read his Duncan Andrews books (and if you haven’t you definitely should) you know what I’m saying.

Also note, the cover dudes are spot on to the descriptions of the characters. That happens so rarely, I had to give props where they were due. This is a fun read that’s heavy on the characters and their sincerity and light on the scares. It’s the perfect book to get you in the mood for Halloween and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.

For more info on Raven's Rest head over to Dreamspinner Press.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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