Daniel is having a hard time finding a job and is even homeless at one point. His cousin, Kyle, finds him on the street and lets Daniel move into his apartment. However, Kyle is not the most accommodating roommate. He treats Daniel poorly, and even finds another person to rent Daniel’s room out from under him. Daniel doesn’t know what to do, but he knows he cannot be homeless anymore. Unexpectedly, an envelope shows up under their apartment door inviting Daniel to become the grounds keeper at the ancient Craven Manor. The job includes a place to stay, a weekly salary, and all the supplies he will need to do his job. Daniel can’t believe his luck and wonders why he is chosen but takes advantage of the offer.

Once at Craven Manor, Daniel finds out that there are rules that go along with his job. Instructions and payment will be delivered by letter, and he can leave written requests for anything he needs. He has not met Bran, the owner of the estate, face-to-face. Daniel will stay in the small cottage near the mansion, but he is not allowed to go outside between midnight and dawn. He must keep his curtains closed and his door locked at night. If he hears noises or knocking outside, he cannot answer the door or look out the windows. And above all, Daniel cannot unlock or open the door to the tower in the mansion.

With his first payment, which turn out to be unique and valuable gold coins, Daniel leaves a little money for his elderly neighbor and some back rent for Kyle. While out celebrating with Kyle, Daniel recants his experiences so far while at Craven Manor. Greed overtakes Kyle and he follows Daniel back to the estate with pans to steal value items. Upon seeing the locked tower door, Kyle tries to bust it open. The mysterious Bran confronts Kyle and puts him in the hospital. Daniel assumes that he will get fired, but Bran surprises him by just giving more takes to repair the damage. Eventually, Bran tells Daniel the history of his family and the estate. However, a visit to Kyle in the hospital gives Daniel doubt that Bran’s story is completely honest.

Upon investigation, Daniel finds a forgotten town that suffered a quick and mysterious plague, killing everyone two hundred years ago. Tales of a shape-shifting monster attacking the town and a spirit being locked in the tower at Craven Manor surface in a conversation with Daniel’s elderly neighbor. Not knowing which story to believe, Daniel violates Bran’s rules and opens the tower door, releasing whatever is inside. Is it something innocent waiting to be freed? Or is it something sinister just waiting for the chance to unleash unspeakable evil? I can’t give away the answer because it would absolutely ruin the story. You will have to read this one for yourself!

This is by far my favorite book this summer! I devoured its 298 pages in a day and a half. As with other books by Coates, I was hooked in the first chapter. I liked Daniel instantly and wanted to see what happened to him right from the start. The storyline moves fast and will keep the reader interested in every paragraph. The scenes are vividly described; I could visualize Daniel’s cottage and the rooms inside the mansion. There is plenty of description for the characters residing in Craven Manor, but the physical details of Daniel are a bit lacking. I suppose that leaves Daniel’s appearance up to the reader’s imagination. Coates also leaves the ending a little open-ended. We do not know for sure why Bran and his family are the way they are or if they will ever pass on to another realm. What we do know is that despite the monsters that reside at Craven Manor, the evilest thing that invades it is a human, Daniel’s cousin. We can also take a life lesson from this book – the smallest acts of kindness, even when you are desperate yourself, can lead to the biggest rewards. With that being said, I cannot wait to read another Darcy Coates book!

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