I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.THE MOOR by Sam Haysom
Published by Unbound Digital on May 8, 2018
Genres: Crime/Serial Killer, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Suspense, Thriller
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"There's a delightful bit of sleight-of-hand at the heart of the novel that I particularly enjoyed." -- Owen King, co-author of Sleeping Beauties
It begins with a ghost story around a campfire. Teenagers out on a walking trip, trying to act brave in front of each other.
But as the walk gets underway and the boys begin to fall out, odd things start to happen.
Noises in the night. A severed rabbit’s foot outside someone’s tent.
Soon, the boys begin to disappear.
As panic sets in and a storm approaches, the remaining boys must band together to face a darkness not even the local ghost stories could help them predict.
THE MOOR is the debut novel from Sam Haysom. Not having read anything previous of his to become “familiar” with his style, I went into this one with no more than a look at the synopsis on NetGalley. The tale alternates mainly between two time frames, 2002, and the present. There are some short newspaper clippings referring to earlier years, but these are easily assimilated into main story.
“Small things that for some reason brought on strong memories . . . “
The crux of the story hinges upon a hiking/camping trip that five, 13 year old boys take with the newest boy to the area, Tim’s, father. For the time we spend with Mr. Stevens and the boys on their trip to Rutmoor, in 2002, this could be considered a bit of a “coming-of-age” tale. Each of these young teens go through quite a bit of finding out exactly who they are, and where they stand in their circle of peers.
“. . . but when you’re 13 years old everything feels as though it’s just about you . . . “
Haysom does a good job with showing us the introspection of at least some of the boys (we learn more about some of the characters than we do about others), as they come to realize their own inner strength, weaknesses, and honest feelings–whether they show them, or keep certain things to themselves. The point is that they learn and have to accept these inner truths.
“. . . the idea of unzipping his tent flap and stepping out into the night suddenly felt like a very bad idea . . . “
The only real complaint I had with this novel is that it took about two-thirds of the book before we really start to get a glimmer of what the “main story” is going to be about. Even then, the hints and few glimpses of the far past and not-too-distant future, really don’t help the reader to be able to imagine the situations properly much before the book is mostly finished.
“. . . There was something about him, something in the condescending way he had of looking at people . . . “
The writing was fluid, and you know there’s a mystery of some magnitude yet to come, but I think some of the action could have begun a bit earlier to get the reader’s adrenaline flowing. I did enjoy learning about each boy’s personality and their lives in general, but having something “concrete” happening sooner in the tale would have increased that sense of dread and unease.
“. . . Lying comes easily to some people . . . “
The atmosphere of Rutmoor, the fog shrouding their hiking routes, all helped to create a palpable scene that the readers could “feel” themselves in.
“. . . He could see a whole nightmare eternity . . . “
The details in the moors and surroundings in general give off the sense that you are on this journey with them. Even without a destination in mind, the area helps give you that feeling of anticipation and suspense for whatever is to come.
“. . . adults didn’t believe kids . . .”
Overall, I really did enjoy the writing style, especially towards the end. The one thing I would have preferred was that the author had gotten more into the horror of the novel, sooner in the story. However, once we did get there, it was definitely a unique experience.
“Now he knows better.”
In my opinion, the end left us on just the perfect note. I’m looking forward to what Sam Haysom comes up with in the future.
About Sam Haysom