Moonstruck is a direct and immediate sequel to the novel High Moor – to the point where I can't imagine this story working at all in a stand alone capacity. That said, go and read/listen to High Moor, because it's pretty awesome.
When I say direct, Moonstruck begins mere hours after the closing dramatic events of High Moor, and wastes no time at all in moving the story forward. High Moor was a deeply assured and well plotted action horror thriller, and Moonstruck takes that ball and runs with it. At the emotional core of this book are a love story and a revenge narrative, which put two not unsympathetic groups onto a brutal collision course.
The plotting was a high point of the previous story, and for my money it's even tighter here – the narrative is dense but lethally easy to follow, and there is a real pleasure and tension in feeling the various characters and factions driving towards each other. Knowing just what the werewolves are capable of actually increases the pressure in this regard, and as with High Moor, Reynolds does a superlative job of building a scene to a dramatic climax, then cutting away to another character or group. It's confident, assured storytelling, and that confidence is well earned.
This novel also contains some truly spectacular action horror sequences. There's an attempted hijacking of a moving police van which is just an exemplar of how to create a cinematic action scene in prose – not a word overused or out of place, tension building to a brilliantly realised explosion of violence and chaos. Similarly, the violence of the werewolves against humans is unflinchingly portrayed. Another element I found as a step up from this work to the previous one was the occasional overuse of certain phrases, during the fights and the werewolf transformation scenes, seems to have been addressed, leaving the eye (or in this case, the ear) nothing to snag over as the relentless horror unfolds.
Any downsides? Not really. I missed the kids form the last book, but their story had been told. I guess the only other thing is that, as with the last story, this one ends on a brutal cliffhanger, that will leaving you howling for the as-yet-unreleased part three. I for one hope Reynolds won't leave us hanging too much longer.
Chris Barnes does another bang up job as narrator – in fact, if anything, this is a more assured performance than the last audiobook in this series. Whilst Chris still seems to struggle a little with the American accents, he's clearly working hard at it, with a noted improvement over the last instalment. As to the rest, there's a feeling that Barnes has really gotten into the character work here, finding the essence of each person and bringing to each a vocal performance that is distinct, without ever overpowering the reading. Again, there is sparing but appropriate use of sound effects on voices when characters use phones or radios to talk, which adds a layer of verisimilitude to the reading. Like the writing, this is assured, skilful narration from a performer clearly dedicated to his craft. Superb stuff.
Part 3, please. :)