Monday, March 24, 2014

The Moorstone Sickness

by Bernard Taylor

Hal and Rowan flee the big city of London to settle in the beautiful, placid, and exceedingly friendly village of Moorstone; disturbing undercurrents eventually become stronger & stronger, and the almost-happy couple find that things are murky indeed beneath the town's lovely surface. there are some intriguing things going on under the surface of this novel as well: Bernard steeps his small bag of precisely-drawn, often ambiguously sympathetic characters into the opaque waters of immortality to see what particular flavors of forever will rise to the surface. who wants immortality and what price are you willing to pay for it? think not on such things - 'tis a sickness of both the body and the soul that you contemplate. 'tis the Moorstone Sickness!

there are no surprises here, neither in the supernatural mystery itself nor in what flavors comes to dominate by the end. still, despite showing its hand (inadvertently? hard to tell) so early that most of the suspense is stripped away, the book is a good one. polished and elegant prose, an often enigmatic narrative, interesting characterization, a well-developed background for the mystery, and a tone that is drily straightforward but also hits notes of an almost grim melancholy, laced with a subtly acidic wit. Taylor is a more than competent author and is distinctly underrated. if you are the sort who likes your horror to be restrained, subtle, thoughtful, and horrific in a quietly brooding way, then he is the author for you. overall I preferred Sweetheart, Sweetheart but this was still an intriguing and atmospheric experience.

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