Raven’s Gate, by Anthony Horowitz

I ran across this audio book at the library, not knowing anything about it or the author. But it was the kind of book I tend to like—supernatural horror and mystery. In many ways the book is completely unoriginal. Everything about it—from the characters to the dialogue to the plot—is a textbook cliché. I’m talking secretive witch covens, sinister cats, gateways to other worlds, secret societies that preserve the legends (read, truths) of antiquity, evidence that the world of science and reason is only “part of the story,” and that an older and more magical world exists along with it (only veiled by the disbelief of a society that thinks it knows all there is to know), human sacrifices, magical talismans, pophetic dreams, and children holding the key to salvation. You get the idea.

In short, it is written exactly like stories like this are supposed to be written. Yet in spite of this, I find the book to be completely enjoyable, and mostly for two reasons: it is well-written by Horowitz, and expertly narrated by the British actor Simon Preeble. In spite of the clichés, Horowitz weaves a story that seems plausible with a writing style that is clean and competent.

I’m just on my last CD, so I’m don’t yet know how it ends (or do I?), but this is only book one of five, so things don’t end here. I’m enjoying it and I recommend it if you like the genre. 

Here’s info on the plot from Wikipedia:

Raven's Gate
is the first book in The Power of Five series, written by Anthony Horowitz. It is followed by Evil Star, released in 2006, Nightrise in 2007, and Necropolis in 2008, with the final book Oblivion due October 2012.

Matt Freeman is a fourteen year old boy who lives in Ipswich with his aunt, Gwenda Davis, who turns out to be an antagonist in Evil Star . He lives with her because his parents died in a car crash when he was eight years old. While living with his aunt, he breaks into a warehouse filled with electronic equipment with his friend, Kelvin Johnson. After they get caught, Matt is sent to Yorkshire on the L.E.A.F. (Liberty and Education Achieved through Fostering) Project, which involves sending troubled children into the countryside to get away from city temptations. Matt's foster parent is a woman named Jayne Deverill, who lives on a farm with a strange farmhand named Noah, who doesn't talk much.

When Matt goes down to the nearby village of Lesser Malling on an errand for Mrs. Deverill he receives a warning from a strange man. The man warns him to get away from Lesser Malling before it is too late. So Matt tries to escape, and while trying to find some money he goes into Mrs. Deverill's bedroom and finds a copy of the police report detailing his parents' deaths and his clairvoyant powers. Matt tries to escape Hive Hall by stealing the bike of Mrs. Deverill's missing husband. He tries to ride away, but finds it impossible to escape, because which ever way he goes, he always ends up back at the same intersection in the forest he started at. He hears strange whispers and sees a light in the trees.

After a while, He discovers Omega One, an abandoned nuclear power station, in the woods and meets the man from Lesser Malling again. The man introduces himself as Tom Burgess, gives Matt a charm that prevents him from going in circles like before, and tells Matt to meet him at his house. Matt visits his house the next day and finds Tom Burgess murdered, with the words "Raven's Gate" painted on the wall in red. Matt runs away as fast as possible, then finds the police and tells them what he saw. They go back to the house where a woman named Miss Creevy says that Tom Burgess has gone to tend to his sheep and visit someone far away. He shows the police officers the scene where he saw Tom Burgess's body, but finds nothing. The words painted on the wall have been painted over.

To get information about Raven's Gate, he finds a book by someone called Elizabeth Ashwood, but the chapter on Raven's Gate is ripped out. When he searches on the Internet, an instant-mail box appears, and a man called Professor Sanjay Dravid talks to him, asking Matt who he is. Matt tells him his name, then the pop-up window disappears. The librarian tells Matt to go to the Greater Malling Gazette to find articles on Raven's Gate, and there he meets Richard Cole, a young journalist working there. Matt tells his story to him, but Cole doesn't believe him. And oddly, when he leaves the Gazette he finds Mrs. Deverill waiting for him with Noah. They forcefully take Matt back to Hive Hall.

Later that night, Matt wakes up to see another light coming from Omega One, even though he found out from the gazette that it hadn't been used in 20 years. Matt knows something is going on and explores the woods. Near the power station he finds an old witchcraft ceremony going on with all the inhabitants of Lesser Malling involved. The power station lights are coming on and men are carrying materials into the building. Matt is noticed and Mrs Deverill summons some gruesome hounds from a fire to kill Matt. While Matt is being chased, he accidentally falls into a bog and begins to sink. Richard Cole arrives and rescues him, as Matt had used his power to call for help. The dogs arrive and Richard kills them by getting a can of gasoline stuffed with a handkerchief, lights it of fire, then throws it at the dogs setting them on fire. They then go back to Richard's house in York. [continue]

Tags: audio books, books, fiction, supernatural, witchcraft

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