top of page
  • N. N. Light

Raven’s Grave by Charlotte Stuart is a Binge-Worthy Festival pick #mystery #bingeworthy #giveaway



Title: Raven’s Grave


Author: Charlotte Stuart


Genre: Mystery


Book Blurb:


A runaway becomes the object of a search in the Alaskan wilderness after a young boy dies during a midnight ceremony. A fish buyer and $75,000 goes missing. And the village police officer becomes both prey and predator as he tries to solve the mystery of the raven’s grave.


Excerpt:


Koloshan, AK – 1979


A full moon dusted the treetops with light. Far below, beneath the outspread branches, the forest floor was dark. It was a darkness filled with night sounds, clicks, snaps, leaves moving restlessly. The soft padding of a hunter. A wink of bright eyes, then nothing.


In a small clearing a bonfire licked the night. A slim figure stood before the fire, arms raised above the flames, motionless. Hands erect, eyes closed, waiting. In one hand he held a wooden rattle shaped like the head of a bird, its once bright colors faded with age. In the other hand was a small leather bag containing his kuts, the source of his power as an icht’a.


Suddenly the young icht’a began to sing. The heel of his right foot pounded the ground in time with his music. Another figure appeared, howled like a wolf and moved slowly toward the fire as if stalking prey. After the wolf came an owl, then a deer, two bears, and a frog, their movements rhythmic, keeping time to the singsong chant of the icht’a. The deer moved quickly, pausing to turn his head from side to side as if alert for enemies. One of the bears fell in behind the deer, heavy, pursuing. Teen-age actors dressed in haste—leather leggings and knee patches, T-shirt slogans half hidden by beaded jackets, eagle feathers drooping from athletic sweatbands.


At a bird-like cry from the icht’a, the drumming ceased, and the dancers froze. A cloud covered the moon, leaving only a circle of light from the fire. Everything was still. Even the night birds fell silent.


Johnny was seated on the ground. He had dutifully drunk the contents of the wooden bowl as instructed by the icht’a. Sweat beaded his forehead and dripped off the end of his nose, leaving a wet spot in the dirt. He was sweating profusely, yet he was shivering. He stuck one foot out as if to get up, then leaned forward and opened his mouth wide. His cry for help was lost in the throbbing of the drum, hoot of the owl, and the droning chant.


Tum tum, tum tum. Run, dance, leap.


Johnny cried out again, but again no one heard him. It wasn’t until he toppled over, his body sprawled on the dirt face down, that anyone noticed.


Tléix'

(ONE)


The red caves were across the island from the village of Koloshan, facing out on an isolated inlet, a honeycomb of chambers slowly carved by nature into the side of a steep cliff. The area was considered sacred by some older natives from the village. According to legend, the earth in and around the caves was red because it was soaked with the blood of warriors who had battled there.


Jonah St Clair, Koloshan’s only police officer, knew that iron oxide accounted for the area’s unique coloration. But it was a good story, one he had heard from the grandfather of a close friend. As youngsters, Jonah and Dan had shared a sense of awe for the caves. The countless stories told by the Tlingit elder had excited their imagination and made Jonah envious of his friend’s heritage, his own seeming anemic by comparison.


In their early teens Jonah and Dan had explored the caves in search of artifacts, half expecting, half dreading that something mysterious and strange would happen to them. But nothing ever had.


Today, Jonah was in his twenty-foot Alumaweld boat headed to the red caves to search for the young icht’a known as Chaaky, from tscha̅k, eagle, the crest animal he claimed as his. Even though it was an official trip, Jonah was enjoying being on the water by himself. He knew he had a reputation for being independent, sometimes uncommunicative, but he didn’t see himself as a loner, just someone who had close relationships with only a handful of people. Even so, he knew most of the villagers and considered himself a part of the community.


One of the boys at the ceremony had suggested Chaaky might have gone to the caves to escape the consequences of his actions. Or, Jonah believed, possibly to mourn what had happened. Either way, it hadn’t been a smart thing to do. “Damn fool kid,” was his unofficial pronouncement.


There was no trail leading directly to the caves from Koloshan. To get there by land involved following a series of animal paths that occasionally petered out and left one to push through thick underbrush until another path could be found. It was a lot faster to go by boat.


An afternoon breeze had come up. The waves were larger than they had been earlier in the day, capped with frothy white foam. Jonah had to work the throttle to keep from taking water over the bow—slow down, speed up, slow down. Water boiled around his outboard motor, but he didn’t think the situation was serious yet. He tapped the 35hp Evinrude motor. “Don’t crap out on me now.” He didn’t want to have to radio for help and hope someone showed up before he was in serious trouble.


Two white crosses along the western shore stood out against the natural backdrop of rocks and brush, a stark warning to beware of the power of wind and water. As he passed by, Jonah sighed. He was aware that many locals shared the belief that when a person is lost in the water their spirit is forced to wander forever. He thought that was unfair and felt that being lost at sea should be more like Catholic purgatory, a temporary stage of the afterlife.


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):









What’s the first binge-worthy book you read and why was it a must-read?


I remember sitting on the floor in the library reading The Call of the Wild and White Fang. I became totally immersed in the setting and couldn’t put either book down until I knew what happened to the animals in these stories.


What makes your featured book a binge-worthy read?


Raven’s Grave gives readers a glimpse into what it was like living in an isolated Alaskan fishing village in the late 70s. A reader who wants a smattering of adventure intertwined with a human story of cultural change mixed with guilt and greed should find this book binge-worthy.


Giveaway –


One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card



Open internationally.


Runs August 1 – 31, 2023.


Drawing will be held on September 1, 2023.



Author Biography:



Her current passion is for writing character-driven mysteries with twisty plots that include diverse topics such as friendship and betrayal, hidden treasure, chimeras, commercial fishing, phobias, and survival groups. She has published nine mysteries since 2019 and recently received a 1st Place Series Award in the Chanticleer International Mystery & Mayhem competition for her Discount Detective Mysteries. She has won or been recognized in a number of contests, including making finals in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, Reader Views, and the Eric Hoffer Awards.


Charlotte lives and writes on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest and is the past president of the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America.


Social Media Links:


1 Comment


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Aug 30, 2023

Thank you, Charlotte, for sharing your book in our Binge-Worthy Book Festival!

Like
bottom of page