Should you forgive your family for turning their back on you?
Martin Gates left the village fifteen years ago because he didn’t belong any more. Now he’s back, and looking for answers. The problem is, no one wants to hear his questions. Well, maybe Tanya McLean, but she has an ulterior motive and her husband won’t like it.
In the meantime, a horrific accident leaves a farm worker fighting for his life; a brutal killing triggers a police investigation; and even the locals are starting to fall out amongst themselves.
Now the villagers have some questions of their own. Is it possible Martin’s arrival is more than a coincidence? Do they really want reminding of what happened in the past? How has a whole farm disappeared from the map? And why are ravens gathering in Sherwood Forest?
As Martin makes his presence felt, it also becomes clear that he isn’t the only visitor. As the ravens gather and darkness descends, the time is drawing near for history to repeat itself.
Introducing characters with deep and unsettling secrets, Ravens Gathering demonstrates that you should never take things at face value. It draws the reader in with neck-prickling tension as the layers are gradually peeled back. Only as it reaches the heart-pumping climax is the shocking truth revealed.
Graeme tells the story behind the story
Back in 1989, driving along the A1, I noticed a group of black birds on the hard shoulder, no doubt feeding off some rotting dead animal. As I drew closer, some more arrived and I said: “Did you see those ravens gathering?”
The phrase leapt out at me. What a brilliant title for a book!
It stuck with me and my mind went into overdrive. With that title, the story had to be creepy, probably touching on the supernatural. It wasn’t subject matter I was naturally inclined to write, but the title didn’t really fit anything else.
To be fair, I wasn’t against horror. From the age of ten, I’d stayed up late watching Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing on TV, and in my teens I’d discovered Stephen King, James Herbert and Graham Masterton. It just never occurred to me that this was a genre I could write.
Even so, images began to come into my mind. One of the first was of drawers opening and closing themselves. Although it doesn’t survive the way I initially envisaged it, a key scene in the book does involve some unnatural furniture!
Still more ideas began to formulate and the broad idea for the story began to gel in my mind. Yet it didn’t get any further than that for twenty years.
Having spent about 5 years working on the first draft of a different novel, I concluded I needed a break before I started editing. So, taking a week’s holiday, I finally started putting down on paper the ideas that had been sitting in my head. Copious notes were written – back stories, timelines, character sketches and plot. I knew it needed serious planning because of the intricate plot.
A month later, I wrote the prologue and could barely contain my excitement as I finally crystallised a scene that had in my head for 20 years. Two years later, having been re-drafted and edited, it was finally published.
In a way, I was right. Ravens Gathering isn’t a true horror story – it’s a thriller where other genres put in cameo appearances. But its tone is right for the title and, although the genre may not be typical of my style, in a sense that’s all to the good. Because whenever someone picks up a book I’ve written, I want them to discover something they weren’t expecting.
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 recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”
Reviews of Ravens Gathering
“A dark and thrilling debut novel…” “…an ambitious and well written book…”
“A great, creepy thriller”
“…everything has an air of authenticity about it.”
“While the writing style is straightforward, Cumming likes to play tricks on his readers…”
“The bad guy is about as horrible, wicked and debauched a villain as you can get.”
“This is a very complicated story that remains in your psyche for some time afterwards.” “
Definitely an author to watch out for – a well written, confident debut.”
“…the story is neither trite nor predictable.”
“…the reader is kept guessing at the secrets and skeletons in the family closet.”
“…tension is allowed to build, quietly but steadily…”
“It is believable…and all the more effective for that.”
Drake Morgan on www.horrornovelreviews.com
“Small town, hidden secrets is a well-trod path. But Cumming’s narrative and creative elements elevate this beyond the usual.”
“His characters are well-developed and complex.”
“As the ravens gather, we feel the town slowly tearing at the seams as secrets won’t lie buried.”
“…the writing is excellent…”
“An interesting insight into human emotions and their ramifications.”
“Complexity of the plot and interestingly varied characters make this well worth reading.”
“I found myself drawn in…”
“Ravens Gathering got me hooked from the very beginning, really great to have a British writer writing in this genre…”
“Engrossing, fascinating, terrifying!”
“It is rare that a book brings up goose bumps but the early scene with the tractor, broad daylight yet evil everywhere, set a tone that continued.”
“Small towns and their secrets will never seem the same to me!”
“…kept the reader interested and a little unprepared for the events.”
“Make sure you have lots of time as you will not want to put this book down!”
“I was engrossed from start to finish.”
“I have read this genre for a long time and to find something so new and unique was great.”
“…he creates a sense of vulnerability and fear…”
“Loved the detailed description of the characters, really perceptive writing made it easy to connect with them all.”
“Definitely got me out of my comfort zone, in more ways than one.”
“I found it creepy (which is hard to do) yet I couldn’t put it down.”
“…very few books keep me reading ’til 3:30 in the morning, but this one did!”
“I don’t want to reveal the twist, and ruin the surprise for others.”
“I could not put this book down.”
“…I was so intrigued I finished the last third of the book in one sitting.”
“The plot is complex and twisted…”
“The opening was something we can all understand, having childhood nightmares.”
“I enjoyed Ravens Gathering. It`s village setting was brilliantly bang on reality.”
“…being a mom I don’t have a lot of spare time…but was half-way through and just couldn’t stop after that.”
“Setting off with an understated but ever present tension and sense of doom I felt exciting unease from the start…”
“The twists and turns had me stop and think a few times, with a “Oh my god,” whisper.”
“…the writing is very intense and creates suspense worthy of a Hitchcock screenplay.”
“This is a gripping and well plotted novel that should gain popularity amongst fans of the genre.
“…a dark and creepy piece of horror and mystery writing.”
“Loved the ending…love how the author kept you wanting to read more and more. LOVE THE BOOK!!!”