Published by Corvus Corone Press on June 12, 2017
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Haunted House, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Suspense
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Four people. Three secrets. One cabin. No way out. British actress Callie Crossley is kidnapped and dumped outside a cabin at the edge of Whispering Woods. All she has is a scrawled message: DEAD TO ME; and two unexpected housemates: a former sitcom star (who looks like hell) and a girl in a wheelchair (who is full of hell). When film producer Torbin Thurston, a man Callie knows personally, turns up at the cabin, Callie has no idea who she can trust anymore. She seems to be the only one who can hear strange whispering and it’s not long till she realises that there’s something dangerous lurking outside in the woods. But are the rumours about Whispering Woods true? Do the trees really talk? And, for those listening, does what they say lead to blood-lust and madness? One way or another, Callie must find a way out before she is consumed by the darkness of Whispering Woods.
A STORYTELLING OF RAVENS is the second book I have read by author R.H. Dixon. This story starts off with a bang and never lets up as far as the suspense and anticipation are concerned. We begin with teenaged Sarah Jane and her cousin, Pollyanna, being taken on a secret getaway by Roxanne–with strict instructions not to tell Sarah Jane’s father. The man they meet–a scarred war veteran–she refers to as “Uncle Dean”. At one point he takes them on a long drive to a secret cabin of his–one far away from civilization.
“. . . The trees sometimes talk . . . And anyone that can hear them . . . will go slowly and irreversibly mad.”
After a cryptic beginning, a Hollywood actress finds herself outside a decrepit cabin surrounded by dark, menacing woods with no idea who would have kidnapped and dumped her there.
“. . . The cabin seemed to regard . . . with quiet menace from the black windows of its tower room, like it knew . . . “
Callie eventually finds herself sharing the cabin with three other, unlikely–and equally trapped–people.
“. . . It’s Whispering Woods . . . this place keeps me here.”
One of the things I love about Dixon’s writing style is how well she builds up her characters’ personalities in the readers’ minds. There’s no “information dumping” here, only an evenly captivating understanding, given by brief comments/thoughts, and by the actions we witness from the characters, themselves. I was completely entranced by this group of people. Their differences, and likewise, their similarities, gave a great contrast to the reader, and much to think about in regards to what could have gotten them all stranded there.
“. . . Nobody owns this place, stupid. It owns you.”
While Callie emerges as the most “take charge” type, each individual plays a crucial roll in this psychological puzzle. Right down to the Whispering Woods, themselves, nearly everything in this place is an enigma. Dixon doesn’t just hand you the answers to any part of this intriguing novel. Rather, we are forced to rely upon the observations fo the characters, and our own imaginations, to try and make sense of this complex and horrifying drama unfolding.
. . . ravens chattered in the ash tree, their deep caws provoking thoughts of graveyards and death . . .”
Personally, this tactic always seems to work the best for myself. When I am pushed into “mentally participating” in the details of a book, it makes the story that much more realand compelling to me. It forces me INTO the world created by the author–a silent, but crucial, element to solving the mystery behind the unfolding events.
. . . some dreadful intuition told her that by looking into this blackness she had alerted something of her presence.”
Aside from the predicament of the main characters, there are . . . other . . .peculiarities about the woods and surrounding areas. It was said that not everyone can hear the whispering of the trees, but for those that can, an entirely new level of psychological hell opens up.
“Whispering Woods. Once it gets into your head it won’t let go.”
Overall, this novel had me from first to last page. Even when I thought I had a clue as to where things were headed, another twist would present itself. these were never “intrusions” on the natural flow of the story, but rather felt–after their development–as the course that was always meant to be.
“. . . EVERYONE has a spider inside of them . . . “
This is an author whose style I immediately took to, and I will eagerly be devouring each new work she comes up with.
“Optimism’s for idiots.”