Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Review: High Moor by Graeme Reynolds

Graeme Reynold's High Moor was a surprise addition to my werewolf reading list and I'm happy for it. The author manages to combine old werewolf horror movie themes with some more modern ideas. On the one hand, there are utterly savage and bloodthirsty werewolves who kill whoever they can when the full moon comes. These are called "the moonstruck", werewolves who are bestial animals taking over their human host bodies. Then there are the "Packs" that teach people to accept their werewolf selves and learn to live with them - allowing them to turn at will and not lose themselves while they are in their werewolf form.

The story itself is told in three acts the first two of which take place in the hero's childhood when he is infected and the last decades later when he returns to his home town to examine rumours of new werewolf attacks. The three acts are separate enough to almost feel like serial novellas, which breaks the novel's overall cohesion a little bit. But, overall, the author manages to keep the story going and the reader hooked.

The horror elements are very strong and consist mainly of very brutal descriptions of the werewolves' savagery. What disturbed me to some degree was the author's habit of killing off innocent children in very brutal ways. In fact, I would not be surprised if the total body count of children was greater in this story than that of adults.

This is the first part of a duology and the story ends rather abruptly just after what one might think was the final confrontation. There's even a new character introduced at the very end of the story, leading to the sequel. Nevertheless, as a first part, the novel worked very well.