Caspian is house sitting for Dr. Kilpatrick in a slightly disheveled house in Beaumont. It needs a bit of work, a lot of cleaning, and is the perfect place for Caspian to take a break from the mad rush of Riverside and reconnect with nature. There are easily a thousand books to read, courtesy of the professor. Maybe he’ll even get a bit of bird watching in; he used to love birds when he was a kid. But the forest calls to him so, rather than read, Caspian takes a walk.
The old forest is filled with hidden beauty. Ancient trees, colorful plants he doesn’t know the name to, sunlight filled meadows, and peace and quiet. While enjoying the peace and serenity of the ancient woods, Caspian hears a commotion, the squawking and cawing of birds. Following the noise he comes across… a murder? Or an attempt at one, at least. There is an injured raven in the pond surrounded by easily a dozen more ravens.
Caspian races in, arms flailing to disrupt the birds, and gathers up the fallen raven. Surely the town has a vet? Escorted by ravens through the woods, and talking to the birds — or maybe just himself — Caspian takes the injured raven to the house, only to discover it isn’t as injured as he thought. Somewhere between the pond and his house, the wing he’d thought was broken has managed to heal itself. Now Caspian just needs to get the not-so-injured bird out of his house, though it seems quite content to watch Caspian.
Eventually the bird leaves, but ever since then he’s seen ravens everywhere. Watching him through the windows, following him in his walks through the woods; it’s almost unnerving, but something about it feels more… comforting. And then there are the dreams. Vidid, enticing, highly erotic dreams about Bran. He and Bran in bed, tangled in black sheets; he and Bran at a waterfall…
Caspian is determined to know if there’s more to this than just dreams, and takes a walk into the woods. After a bit more walking than he’d thought, he discovers an unsettling truth. The waterfall is real. The stones where he and Bran had made love are still wet… but more alarmingly, he’s not the only one there. Six people, pale skinned and dark haired and very, very naked are there to greet him.
Caspian now has to deal with three new facts to add to his reality. The first, magic is real. The second, the man from his dreams, Bran, the man he’s falling in love with, is also real. And the third, ravens can turn into people. Magical people. Bran is a raven with magical powers — a raven prince — and he wants Caspian. That’s not so much to take in, right?
This is the second book in the Elsewhere series, though you don’t need to read the first book to read Caspian and Bran’s story, which is fortunate because this is the first of Perry’s books I’ve been lucky enough to read.
Caspian is a young man, fresh from college, hiding away from the world in the safety of Dr. Kilpatrick’s house. He isn’t so much soul-searching as vegging, using physical activity and the peace and quiet of the nearby woods to relax and find his center. He’s impulsive, reckless — as seen by his efforts to rescue a raven, charging a dozen or so very large birds to rescue an injured animal — but good hearted. We never really see into his past to learn what brought him to Beaumont and we don’t know what his previous relationships may have been, romantic or otherwise, but we know that Caspian is sensitive, emotional, and so very ready to have a connection with someone. When his dream lover turns out to be real, Caspian goes from halfway in love to completely in love. Bran is commanding, protective and drop-dead gorgeous. That’s all Caspian needs to know, at least at first.
Bran takes Caspian to his home, a tangle of rooms and buildings high up in trees, hidden in another dimension. Caspian can’t help but fall a little in love with the place, so closely tied to the beauty of the forest. Bran doing everything he can to win Caspian over doesn’t hurt things, either. Not that we get to know Bran very well. The book is entirely through Caspian’s eyes and he’s a little biased where it comes to his raven prince. Bran has the usual sensitive alpha traits: physical prowess, a vital masculinity, and of course tears and quiet promises to wait as long as it takes — forever even! — when Caspian wants a minute or two to wrap his head around the changes in his world. Fortunately Caspian, a sensitive soul himself, finds this to be heart-breaking and cannot help but come back to Bran.
The world of the ravens is hinted at, seen through a bit of fog. We know they have no need of clothing, that they have their own palace perched in the treetops of another dimension, and that there are politics aplenty, but this world is seen through Caspian’s eyes and he’s not interested in treaties, battles, or interdimensional doings. He’s interested in Bran, and that’s where his focus, and the the focus of this story, settles. It’s both frustrating and fascinating to see what we do of this new realm, as little as it is.
Some of my favorite scenes involve the little touches: Caspian being tended to by a pair of raven attendants who mourn that his human hair is a flat black rather than having the iridescent sheen of their feathers and their cajoling to get him to let them add some coloring to his hair to make it pretty.
Caspian is a pleasant protagonist and Bran is a handsome alpha, ready to rush into marriage immediately. Caspian had a brief moment where he wanted to take a step back. I loved the emotional maturity of this one, small moment:
Caspian knew that he loved Bran, but he had to love himself, too. Part of loving himself meant not doing things he didn’t want to do.
For all the tropeyness of insta-love, Caspian isn’t jumping blindly into a magical realm. He’s determined to take some time — as much as he needs — to know that this is right for him, to know that Bran is right for him. He thinks about his future, his parents, and himself. This book was over too quickly for me and I had fun reading it. Fortunately there are other books in this story because I’d like to see more of the raven realm.