High Moor 2: Moonstruck by Graeme Reynolds
Time for another guest review, so without any further ado, it’s over to The Eloquent Page’s resident expert on all things werewolf, MadNad, for her thoughts on High Moor 2.
The people of High Moor are united in horror at the latest tragedy to befall their small town. As dawn breaks, the town is left to count the cost and mourn its dead, while breathing a collective sigh of relief. John Simpson, the apparent perpetrator of the horrific murders, is in police custody. The nightmare is over.
Detective Inspector Phil Fletcher and his partner, Constable Olivia Garner, have started to uncover some unsettling evidence during their investigations of John Simpson’s past – evidence that supports his impossible claims: that he is a werewolf, and will transform on the next full moon to kill again.
However a new threat is now lurking in the shadows. A mysterious group have arrived in High Moor, determined to keep the existence of werewolves hidden.
And they will do anything to protect their secret. Anything at all.
As Mr Cheesecake won the toss and got to review Graeme Reynolds’ first book in this series, High Moor, it seemed only fair that I got first crack at the sequel, Moonstruck.
If you haven’t read High Moor book one, this review may contain spoilers.
The last book ended with a showdown between our hero, John Simpson, and his long-time nemesis Malcolm. It took me a while to get back into the story, as it has been well over a year since I read the first one. I would have liked a few more reminders of events in the first one, as once or twice I struggled to even remember who characters where by their names alone or what their part was in the story. Much like in the first book, the story in Moonstruck flickers back and forth between several timelines, so as the story unfolds, the characters stories and motivations are filled in.
The opening chapter hits the ground running, full of action and thrills that really sets the tone for the rest of the book. The pace never really subsides as Reynolds’ puts his characters through various emotional and physical mills. The action is explosive and relentless, the violence is gory and ferocious, yet it is far from mindless as it is underpinned by a superb and fascinating story.
The story centres around two types of werewolves, ones that have some control over their bestial side, and those that don’t – the moonstruck. These are considered dangerous even by their own kind, as their crazed bloodlust only serves to endanger the rest of the werewolf community by potentially revealing their existence to the world. The werewolf community considers them vermin to be exterminated. John is moonstruck. He was infected by a moonstruck werewolf when he was a child. Over the years, he has learned to manage his condition, and taken the necessary precautions. In book one, he investigates a series of murders strikingly similar to those that were undertaken by the beast responsible for infecting him many years earlier, bringing John to the attention of the werewolf community.
The prose is interesting, as much like in book one, the author uses dialect specific to the north-east of England which is where a lot of the action takes place. I am unsure how this translates to a European or US audience, but for us Brits, it should pose no problem.
There are several characters that I found myself warming to. Strangely, I never really warmed that much to John in the last book, nor in this one. I realise he is the main protagonist, but much like Harry Potter, he is not half as interesting as the characters around him.
The female characters particularly stand out. I applaud Reynolds for writing his woman well. They are strong, fierce, protective and intelligent, and a few are notably more sinister than their male counterparts. While written for movies, this book passes the Bechdel test with flying colours.
This book is definitely for fans of the horror werewolf. If your preference is for shirtless native boys, or muscle-bound broody types with a hairstyle, then this is not for you. The werewolves in Reynolds’ imagination are a welcome return to the horrific roots of the werewolf legend, a creature that is neither man nor beast, but something that lives in the terrible space between the two.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, probably more so than the last one, and the stage has been set for the third book which I await eagerly.
High Moor 2: Moonstruck is published by Horrific Tales Publishing and is available now.