High Moor is a complex, tightly plotted werewolf story, split between 1986 and the present day. The narrative follows a group of children living in the town of High Moor during what proves to be a very eventful summer, before pivoting to the here and now for the conclusion.
The children of High Moor are incredibly well realised – well rounded, pleasingly un-PC and just the right side of amoral. The dialogue between them crackles with authenticity, and the characters of the different children are swiftly drawn with great skill. I found myself very quickly getting to know and like these kids – they felt very real, very unsentimental. This drew me in immediately, and when bad things inevitably started to happen, I felt invested in the outcome.
Reynolds also does an exceptional job with his action sequences (of which there are many). He has a talent for keeping the focus where it needs to be – I found myself picturing these scenes as movies – and the horror is visceral and intense but never histrionic or overblown. Similarly, the plotting throughout is superb. There are times when the story reads almost as an action thriller, in that he has a genius for cutting away at a climactic point, which kept me keenly engaged. Again, it's testament to the plotting that this works as well as it does – even as I was impatient to get back to the cliffhanger, I was fascinated to see how the other characters were fairing. The story is dense, and the interweaving of the various characters plot lines is one of the strengths of the story.
The werewolves themselves are also well written, with the descriptions of their point of view vivid and evocative. My only minor issue was an over-reliance on certain phrases during the transformation scenes, but once the beasts are mobile, the storytelling is superb.
Overall, High Moor is a great read – well realised characters, exquisite plotting, and strong action horror. One note of warning though: The ending is a brutal cliffhanger that not only does not resolve the story but will left me impatient for more. This is unambiguously the first book of a trilogy, so don't go in expecting resolution.
Regarding the audio aspect, for the most part narrator Chris Barnes does a grand job. His Scottish accent is distinct but utterly clear – as someone who can struggle with thicker regional access, I found the entire story totally intelligible. He has a powerful and seemingly instinctive sense of pacing, which allows the action sequences to flow without either becoming rushed or dragging. He also acquits himself well for the most part with the various regional accents of the characters, though he does struggle somewhat with the lone American character.
There are also some subtle but deft audio techniques employed which added to my absorption in the tale – a use of effect when characters talk on the phone or via walkie talkie gave an added verisimilitude to the telling of the story, without being intrusive or showy.
Overall this audiobook was an immersive and captivating experience. Providing you know in advance this is only part one of a larger story, I would happily recommend this fine action horror novel.
When John Simpson hears of a bizarre animal attack in his old home town of High Moor, it stirs memories of a long forgotten horror. John knows the truth. A werewolf stalks the town once more, and on the night of the next full moon, the killing will begin again. He should know. He survived a werewolf attack in 1986, during the worst year of his life.
It’s 1986 and the town is gripped in terror after the mutilated corpse of a young boy is found in the woods. When Sergeant Steven Wilkinson begins an investigation, with the help of a specialist hunter, he soon realises that this is no ordinary animal attack. Werewolves are real, and the trail of bodies is just beginning, with young John and his friends smack in the middle of it.
Twenty years later, John returns to High Moor. The latest attack involved one of his childhood enemies, but there’s more going on than meets the eye. The consequences of his past actions, the reappearance of an old flame and a dying man who will either save or damn him are the least of his problems. The night of the full moon is approaching and time is running out.
But how can he hope to stop a werewolf, when every full moon he transforms into a bloodthirsty monster himself?