Book Review: "The Moor" by Sam Haysom (2018)
It's cliched, but you have to grab me right from the start with your story. I'll always give it at least 50 pages to see how it develops; don't get me wrong. However, you need to set that tone, you know? Grab a reader by the short & curly hairs and scream (or whisper) "LISTEN UP".
Hey, Sam Haysom- you can let go now. And I really do prefer the whispering (nudge nudge, wink wink!).
Here's your setup- a group of teenage boys (Matt, Tom, James, Gary, & the awkward and silent Tim) are on a walking trip across the titular moor (Rutmoor National Park). They are led by Tim's charming and knowledgeable dad, Mr. Stevens. Rutmoor has been the sight of many disappearances over the years. It's also home to the legend of a witch named Emily Brown, murdered by the local townsfolk long ago. There's a classic campfire tale from Mr. Stevens. It's a fantastic setup, beautifully ham-fisted.
Get it? You're entering Blair Witch territory, and I mean that in a very positive way. The vibe early on is very heavy in that direction. I'll stay spoiler-free (as always), but here's the thing: you think you know where this is going. Stay tuned. You don't. It's always a good thing when you can make my eyebrows raise and involuntarily say "that's what I'm talkin' about!" when the twist slides artfully in out of nowhere like a Randy Orton RKO.
The characters are believable and heartfelt. If you can make me compare each character to someone that I grew up with (especially in this kind of story) then you've won half the battle. Tom is the tall, athletic kid who's preternaturally good at everything. Gary is the bully/prick that you shouldn't like...but you do. Matt is the natural leader who's overshadowed by Tom through no fault of Tom's own doing. James is the sensitive kid; something of a likable pansy. Tim is the classic "weird kid", silent and awkward.
We all knew these kids, right? God knows I did.
The twist, the characters, the epistolary breaks for exposition....all of these things brought me right into the story. The clincher for me was the pacing. At a little over 200 pages you'll tear through this one in one sitting (or, in my case, 2 sittings if people are keeping you from what you want to do!). The story races by and keeps you glued. I love that.
Congratulations, Sam, on one hell of a fine yarn. You really kept me from getting shit done.
THE IMPORTANT STUFF: You can get this book on Amazon for a steal ($1.99 in the US, .99 across the pond)! Here's the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moor-Sam-Haysom-ebook/dp/B07C5YZQCK. If you use Goodreads here's the info for that as well: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39849111-the-moor