I first discovered Raven Bower with her novel APPARITIONS and became an instant fan. Since then I’ve read all three books in the series and devour each. The action and horror scenes are enthralling and the characters feel like real people.
I previously covered her (along with her husband Lain) amazing fantasy novel WEEPING DARK: BLEEDING EDGE (2013) and loved it as well. You can read that review here:
Below we’ll take a look at each book in the Bailey Kane trilogy.
The story centers on Bailey Khane, a successful writer of murder novels who lives in a secluded lakeside cabin in Michigan, where she’s visited by the ghosts of women murdered by a depraved serial killer and “shown” their final moments. She only gains respite from them by writing about their traumatic end. She changes the names and locations, but that doesn’t stop a private investigator named Andy from recognizing details of his sister’s murder in Bailey’s work. He isn’t the only one interested in her. The murderer himself sets his sites on Bailey. If that weren’t enough, the increasingly aggressive spectral victims want the only woman able to see them to act on their behalf to stop the killings. Bailey soon finds herself facing an ever-tightening web of danger.
This is a riveting tale of supernatural horror that blends romance, mystery and action with well-developed characters. Raven hits on all cylinders here. The horror elements are chilling, in particular a scene on the lake that may cause you to second guess that next vacation on the water. Her ability to make secondary characters interesting is a tremendous strength. I often found them so interesting I wanted them to take on a bigger role. This in no way implies a weakness in the main characters, just the opposite. Bailey Kane is a great protagonist who considers her supernatural powers a burden despite the financial benefits she’s gained from them. The story moves fast and keeps up the intensity as threats close in on Bailey from all sides.
The sequel to Apparitions once again features Bailey Khane. Despite its sequel status, it isn’t necessary to have read the first one. Characters introduced in the first book return, and events from it are referred to, but there’s nothing that couldn’t be ascertained without having read it.
At the beginning of the novel, Bailey has retreated to a secluded forest cabin with her dog Thor without telling her boyfriend Andy, who’s become increasingly distant from her since their ordeal in APPARITIONS. Soon after arriving at the cabin, Bailey’s visited by the spirits of some horribly ravaged locals. Something dreadful’s been unleashed on the forest. The town of Whisper, where this takes place, has been searching for a group of missing teenagers. When their remains are found in a nearby abandoned mine, they’ve been ripped apart and largely devoured by something with inhuman strength. The supernatural entity stalking the forest terrorizes the area and seems to number Bailey among its desired victims. She meets new, intriguing allies along the way. She’s joined by stalwart Police Chief Trace and reluctant Native American spiritualist Daniel. Old friends from APPARITIONS get involved as well. Together they form a party of diverse talents to oppose the powerful force threatening them.
I love stories involving the Wendigo legend. Algernon Blackwood’s great novella by the same name is a favorite of mine, so I was glad to see the diabolical wilderness spirit in action again.
RAGS BENEATH (2012)
Chief Trace returns to bring Bailey back for the final installment of the trilogy when he asks her to help him locate his brother, sister-in-law and niece who disappeared while boating on Lake Superior. To do this they need a boat, which proves difficult. Bailey is forced to go with her last resort and ask her brother’s ill-tempered ex-wife Sloane for passage. Sloane and her crew of Cody and Till are in the midst of searching the lake to find a vessel that disappeared with its passengers, crew and cargo of gold many years ago. Reluctantly she agrees to take the group which also includes Bailey’s loyal dog Thor and her boyfriend Andy. Not everyone gets along, however. Sloane thinks Bailey’s insane and has designs on stealing Andy from her, while Trace, Andy and Bailey have a love triangle of their own brewing.
Many other obstacles stand in the way of their search, from the perils of exploring sunken shipwrecks to uncovering the secrets of a diabolical criminal element. The underwater scenes inside the shipwreck are particularly strong. That’s where we are introduced to Cassandra, a powerful specter accidentally awakened from her watery grave, driven by an all-consuming desire for vengeance against the living. With a will strong enough to bring along a hoard of undead crewmen, she seems unstoppable.
There are many great characters at play here and each gets adequate time in the limelight without overburdening this relatively short novel. Even the fringe characters have interesting personalities and motivations. For example, Cody, the grizzled boat captain full of stories with the heart of a hero, was a character I particularly enjoyed.
This is a fast-paced tale of adventure, horror, mystery and romance which receives my highest recommendation. Give it a chance. I’m certain you’ll enjoy the ride!
Reviews by Matt Cowan