Title: Wakening the Crow
Author: Stephen Gregory
Publisher: Rebellion, Solaris
Date of Publication: 11 November 2014
Number of Pages: 256
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: With the looming shadow of Edgar Allan Poe falling over one family, Gregory takes the reader into a world of uncertainty and fear.
Oliver Gooch comes across a tooth, in a velvet box, with a handwritten note from 1888 to say it’s a tooth from the boy Edgar Allan Poe. He displays it in his new bookshop, and names the store Poe’s Tooth Books.
Oliver took the money from his small daughter Chloe’s accident insurance and bought a converted church to live in with his altered child and wife. Rosie hopes Chloe will came back to herself but Oliver is secretly relieved to have this new easy-to-manage child, and holds at bay the guilt that the accident was a result of his negligence. On a freezing night he and Chloe come across the crow, a raggedy skeletal wretch of a bird, and it refuses to leave. It infiltrates their lives, it alters Oliver’s relationship with Rosie, it changes Chloe. It’s a dangerous presence in the firelit, shadowy old vestry, in Poe’s Tooth Books.
Inexorably the family, the tooth, the crow, the church and their story will draw to a terrifying climax.
Review: It is almost instantaneous that a reader understands this book will be different from others. We have the semblance of normal, working father in a mobile library, a bored kid who, through a series of events, turns into a passive, agreeable angel where once she had been a rude little shit. What makes this unique? The simple fact that the father, Oliver Gooch, doesn’t really like his daughter very much and quite easily sees the flaws in her. So refreshing from the gushing parent in fiction who thinks their child is perfect and how dare you not agree with them.
Our narrator, Oliver Gooch, isn’t terribly likeable but there is something addictive about him. Who of us hasn’t wanted a cozy job where you could virtually do whatever you wanted as the whim took you. Until Chloe’s accident, this is almost the life Gooch was living. When all this changes, Gooch decides to open a bookshop. The bookshop isn’t anything special, Gooch himself admits you could buy most of his stock in high street or charity shops but he has the alleged milk tooth of the great Edgar Allan Poe. Along the way, he inherits a crow and all strange things begin to happen. All of the strange things are entirely plausible and I found myself jumping at noises in my flat as I read them in the book. Graham has taken a mundane series of events and turned them into something other. There is a feeling throughout the book of a Stephen King influence. Even though I say there is a King style influence, I do not want anyone to think I am taking away from Graham because there is also a very English feeling to Wakening the Crow.
This isn’t your typical, cheap shocks, horror novel. It plays on your mind. You can imagine every moment of this book and it worms itself into your subconscious. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the horror genre who wants to scare themselves with their own imaginations. Wakening the Crow allows for your imagination to go into overdrive as the words are incredibly visual while not being overwhelmingly descriptive.
Wakening the Crow does feel as though it runs out of momentum towards the end as Gooch becomes increasingly haphazard. Some reviewers have seen this as a negative, however, I feel it works and completes the narrative because it shows the characters mind after a stressful twelve months.
I acknowledge I’m reading an ARC copy of this book but I hope it was given another once over by an editor as there are some glaringly obvious mistakes throughout this copy. My local library doesn’t have a final copy in their stock for me to check. (Sorry). Don’t let this deter you though. The book is so much better than a couple of mistakes!