I remember when I was first sent High Moor by Graeme Reynolds to review, it was an interesting take on werewolves. It featured the more classic werewolf where it was more of a curse for the person who would change into a wolf when the moon was full, and for once it wasn’t about love triangles with a teenager and a creepy vampire. Now I have High Moor 2: Moonstruck which continues the story, following straight on from the chaos of the first book.
You can imagine that High Moor would be in a state of chaos after the murders that befell them, and with John Simpson now in custody for the murders in police custody you would expect the horror to be over. The truth is though this is far from the end as the European vampires move in to cover up the murders and get rid of John Simpson, who they believe to be moonstruck. Best laid plans of a simple cover up never go to plan though as old vendettas soon resurface and Simpson finds himself in a battle not only to survive the werewolf cover up but rogue hunters and police.
The real strength of High Moor and now High Moor 2: Moonstruck is the fact that it takes the werewolf lore and to a point sticks with it. The idea that the human can control the beast inside and use it as almost a partner within themselves does take a risk of moving away from that, but for the most part the curse, or the beast is something within the person an anger waiting to get out. Also the fact that the person can learn to control the creature and even change when the moon is not actually full does add more to the action scenes. I know this slightly contradicts what I said about it being connected to the lore of werewolves, but for me it still fits to the traditional curse itself.
Another strength of High Moor 2: Moonstruck is the history of the characters, which is something you do really need to read the first book for. The themes of family and childhood friendship run strong through the books, whether it be reasons for retribution or reasons for other characters to help John Simpson. His character is very much a man lost in a war he has no idea of, he didn’t ask for the curse and he does his best to control it, which makes for a likeable character that you do want to succeed, even if it looks like he doesn’t stand a chance.
I like the fact that High Moor 2: Moonstruck is again open ended so that Graeme Reynolds can continue the story and drag us along with it. Some may not connect with the balance between action and horror, but for me as a fan of films like Dog Soldiers I feel the werewolf as a creature does fit a world of violence and battles, maybe even wars. Maybe if the focus of future books moves to Europe, or even other countries where werewolves are hinted to be living too, then the story could have quite a future ahead of it.