Book Review: High Moor / Author: Graeme Reynolds / Publisher: Horrific Tales Publishing / Release Date: Out Now
To John Simpson, a savage animal attack in his hometown of High Moor can mean only one thing: werewolves. He should know, he is one. The attack immediately brings back childhood memories of his summer spent hanging out with best friends David and Michael and their sister Marie, playing in the woods and standing up against the school bully, Malcolm Harrison. It was an idyllic time which was shattered by a series of werewolf attacks which John would eventually be on the wrong side of, losing both of his best friends and finding his perfect little world crushed in the process. Now, with a lifetime of pain and torment in tow, John heads out to face his past and, in all probability, shorten his future.
This isn’t a werewolf book. Okay, technically it is, but what stands out the most about High Moor are the beautifully written characters and a palpable sense of childhood nostalgia. Not since Stephen King’s IT have I read a story with such a tangible sense of what it meant to be a child, seamlessly blended into a genre-heavy tale. John’s innocent affection of his friends David and Michael and subsequent puppy love of their sister Marie is so well constructed it makes the incredible circumstances that surround them all the more easily accessible.
Two thirds of this book is set in 1986, and to be honest this comprises the most immersive part of High Moor’s story. Wrapped around this is essentially the ‘plot’, bookending John’s childhood trauma with a more adult confrontation that both surprises and shocks in equal amounts as it wraps up the loose ends of the 80s tale. To his strength, Reynolds has seemingly written this in a very cinematic style. The action punches out (although there are a few missed opportunities for great set-pieces) and the solid framework adheres perfectly to Hollywood’s three-act structure. The writing isn’t perfect and the time/date stamps at the beginning of every chapter grind, but this is forgivable as this is his first attempt at a novel.
As for the werewolves? History has shown that this particular supernatural beast is very hard to get right. There have been very few movies that have really sold the concept well, and even less books. This, however, is a cut above the rest, slicing through the competition with razor claws and gnashing teeth. Dabbling in both the rage-fuelled beast and morphing-at-will variations, High Moor deftly creates a believable sub-culture of werewolves working within and outside of an organised ‘pack’.
Ripe for a film or TV adaptation and left open for a sequel, High Moor is an excellent example of great British writing that deserves to be read.