Before I ever read anything by Darcy Coates, there was one thing I could say for sure about her – she sure knew how to get her work featured on Amazon. Everywhere I looked for something specific in horror, she always seemed to have a book or two listed as one that I might like as well. That kind of stuff always gave me pause. Most of what Amazon thinks is good horror is absolute garbage. Well, after all this time resisting, I finally decided to check out her work and see for myself. What a surprise. Amazon actually got this one right. Coates knows how to spin a haunted tale. Craven Manor is a great example of that.
So, right off the bat, I was a little skeptical. Unemployed and recently homeless, Daniel, gets a letter under his door offering him a job as a groundskeeper from someone he has no clue who it is. Okay. Red flag right there. Who accepts that? But, hold on. It will all take care of itself and that’s where Coates shines. You eventually learn that there’s this big old spooky manor that hasn’t been lived in for many decades and the owner wants the grounds cleaned up. However, there are some rules. Daniel will live in the carekeeper’s cottage. No guests allowed. Do not enter the tower. Do not leave the groundskeeper’s cottage between midnight and dawn. Draw your curtains. Keep the door locked. If you hear knocking, do not answer it. That’s enough to make me turn and walk away. But then again, I’m not recently homeless like Daniel. Sure, he saw the red flags, but desperation has a way to make a person look the other way, especially once he saw what he was being paid. The secrets of Craven Manor start to come to light and Daniel is such a good-natured kind of guy, that you instantly root for him. And this is how Coates pulls it all off. She gives us a sympathetic character without making him out to be an idiot. The other thing that she so cleverly does is make it so not all ghost are scary monsters. Daniel gets over his fright and begins to take it all in stride. I know it sounds far-fetched, but trust me. She makes it work. The only things that don’t make it quite a 5-star read for me is the way she introduced Daniel to the job and that I would’ve liked the story to have a bit more teeth. Craven Manor was a borderline YA kind of book. Still, don’t let it hold you back. Craven Manor is definitely worth your time and I found it quite enjoyable.
4 1/2 Crows out of 5
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