Perhaps with the exception of An American Werewolf in London, not much of werewolf fiction has been set in the UK, which is one of the things that makes author Graeme Reynolds’s novel, High Moor unique, as it’s set in Wales and the Yorkshire moors of England. The main character, John Simpson, is a reluctant werewolf who also works cases for the police, and has been hiding from his past, but it catches up to him when the case of Malcolm, a former schoolmate, comes up and John refuses to work it. Malcolm (who is a total wanker, by the way) is attacked by a werewolf one night when walking his dog, but the poor pet gets the worst of it while Malcolm flees.
But the narrative structure changes from the present and we go back into the past for much of the novel, to 1986, to discover how all of this began and how werewolves came into the picture. As it turns out, the High Moor has a local legend about a beast who has terrorized the area for many years, and the residents definitely buy into it. There have also been sheep killings, and the police think those might be the handiwork of a puma set loose from the local zoo in the ’60s.
Poor John, his friends David and Michael and Mike’s little sister Marie learn first-hand the truth behind the legends, but the author does a great job establishing the bond that the group of misfits share including a hatred toward Malcolm and his other bully friends. But their problems soon go beyond the group of bullies as it becomes clear to the police that they’ve got more than they can handle on their hands, and they need to bring in an expert, who comes in the form of Carl Schneider, an American who learned of lycanthropes during World War II when he was in Eastern Europe. Despite the somewhat dull passages of dialogue that Carl delivers about his life and how he came to find out about werewolves, he’s a well-developed character with a personal stake of his own in the matter, which adds dimensions to the overall story.
The werewolves in this novel are gypsies who have no choice but to take a vested interest in the lives of John and his friends once more werewolf attacks occur. The pacing, action sequences, and the pain of what John goes through are all very well-executed, with the reader always wondering how all of the events of the past will affect John’s future, and when we return to the present, the more we see how much his past is intertwined with it and will have direct consequences on what happens. The twists and turns are fantastic and will keep you turning the pages eagerly, wanting to see how everything comes full circle.
There are a few big reveals at the end that set things up perfectly for a sequel, should the author choose to release one, as well.
If you’re craving some good werewolf action with well-developed characters and a fantastic plot, skip the Hollywood films and go straight for this electrifying novel, which is far more entertaining.