Written by: Nathan Crazybear
Tamara Thorne is a veteran in the horror genre. As a bestselling novelist through the nineties, including a nomination for a Bram Stoker Award, Thorne has more than 20 published works to her name. Alistair Cross is a relative newcomer to the publishing world, his first publication by Damnation Books in 2012. Together the duo has created the Ravencrest Saga, a gothic erotic romance series telling the stories lurking within a haunted mansion in Devilswood, California. The Ghosts of Ravencrest is Book 1 in the Ravencrest Saga.
Belinda Moorland, a 23-year old recent college grad and victim of a remarkably sheltered life, has just been hired on as the new governess at Ravencrest, an old English manor that was taken from London and rebuilt brick by brick in California. The owners of Ravencrest, the Manning family, are a wealthy group with a rich and tragic history that haunts the very foundations of the manor. Between sexy ghosts, a secretive butler, an evil secretary, a religious zealot mother, and her handsome boss, Belinda has to dive into the secrets of Ravencrest in order to save the soul of a long-dead member of the Manning family.
So is The Ghosts of Ravencrest both a small part of a triumphant return for Tamara Thorne as well as an addition to the catalogue of a promising new writer in Alistair Cross? The answer…is a resounding “no.”
While Thorne & Cross do a great job of painting a rich history for the Manning family, the extensive cast of characters they create, both in Ravencrest’s history and its present are just that, characters. Thorne & Cross weave a tale of archetypes, characters lacking complexity or any real reason to care about them. The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. Though there’s plenty of opportunity to add depth to these characters, especially within the narrative’s omniscient point-of-view, our authors instead opt to focus on trying to create a story that is both spooky and sexy.
So is it spooky? Kinda. The Ghosts of Ravencrest does bring some creepy imagery to the table as well as some interesting ghostly specters but most of the books suspense seems to get snuffed out too quickly. The book has its scares but not enough to keep the reader enthralled.
But is it sexy? Again: kinda. Thorne & Cross seem to hold suggestion as their bread and butter. Outside of an interesting doctor’s visit, our authors pull every punch in the books erotic department. With Belinda constantly blushing and giggling and every male character being attractive, the eroticism is no surprise; the fact that Thorne & Cross seem to rely mostly on suggestion and cutaways to let the story feign something tasty for fans of the erotic subgenre though, is.
It’s in “suggestion” that my main qualms with The Ghosts of Ravencrest lies, as it affects more than just the erotic scenes. Thorne & Cross are not using a minimalistic writing style. They’re not telling us a lot about their characters by delivering a little. They’re not leaving us in suspense by cutting away from scenes. They’re simply broad-stroking aspects of the story that need more substance.
The Ghosts of Ravencrest is an at times fun read, but with its archetypal characters, predictable scenes, and lackluster steaminess, ultimately feels less like an outing by two published authors and more like the work of a young self-published hopeful.
Order it here.