by Sam Haysom
08 May 2018
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher via netgalley.com. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Jumping between the past and 2015, interspersed with newspaper clippings, „The Moor“ by debut author Sam Haysom tells the spooky tale of people going missing and animals getting killed in and around Rutmoor National Park, England. The main plot, told from different points of view, revolves around five teenagers and one father going on a camping trip in 2002 during which some of the members disappear. In 2015, the remaining, now adult survivors meet again and return to Rutmoor for a special mission.
It’s not like we haven’t read similar stories before. A group of slightly clichéd boys on a trip together, their different characters causing tension. Gruesome tales told by the campfire. A misty, dark moor. The spooky tale turning into reality when something evil picks them off, one by one, with no help (and no cell phone reception) available. The question whether it’s a very human killer on the loose or a supernatural monster of some kind.
It’s all been there, and Haysom’s mix of tropes and fool-proof plot devices isn’t adding anything new to the horror genre. The dénouement – to the seasoned reader – is foreseeable, the identity of the killer not a real surprise. While Haysom adds a little too much background to some of the boys‘ characters, he lacks in explaining the killer’s origin enough. The boys themselves are a standard mix of the leader, the loser, the nerd, the clown and the sickly kid, some of them grating, others more likeable, none of them anything special.
And yet, „The Moor“ is an entertaining and quick read, perfect for a long flight or a short holiday. The time jumps, the cliff hangers and the question of who’s next stir up enough suspense to make „The Moor“ difficult to put down. It’s spooky, atmospheric and a little disgusting without being really scary. Enough for chilling entertainment, not enough to be the stuff of nightmares.
What is surprising, though, is the unexpected turn of events in the middle of the book and the switch in perspective that goes along with it. While it does take away some of the whodunit suspense, it adds a bit of dimension and complication to what otherwise would’ve been a straightforward, completely foreseeable read. And even if the ending doesn’t come out of the blue, Haysom’s choice of telling the story gives it a darker quality.
All in all, nothing spectacular and too mild for real horror, but entertaining enough to recommend as an easy, sinister read to gobble down within a day or two.