First published back in October of 2015, British author Graeme Reynolds’ novel ‘High Moor III: Blood Moon’ formed the third and final instalment into the author’s highly-claimed ‘High Moor’ werewolf trilogy.

DLS Synopsis:
Following Connie Hamilton’s revelation to mankind about the existence of werewolves, the repercussions were instantaneous, dramatic and totally uncompromising.  The fear of knowing that these monsters were living amongst them gripped humankind; the sudden revelation sending shock waves across the entire world.

In the UK airports were quickly locked down, with special werewolf screening equipment swiftly brought in.  With Connie having also disclosed the names and addresses of all the werewolves residing in the UK, the government were quick to move in - performing a series of military-style raids on their homes – capturing and slaughtering the inhabitants in one finely coordinated movement.

Meanwhile John Simpson and Marie Williams have been hoping to avoid detection from the authorities by hiding out in an isolated cottage in Llangarron, Herefordshire.  Within the small confines of the cottage they are joined by fellow pack member – Daniel - their link to Russia and the fragile balance of power which their alpha is on the verge of losing.

Elsewhere, following Connie’s savage attack upon him, Steven Wilkinson has found that he’s now under strict guard within Underhill Military Base.  Here, under the direct command of Colonel Brian Richards, Doctor Channing hopes to find out all there is to know about the werewolves.  And in order to do so he needs live subjects to experiment upon.  Unfortunately for the werewolf race, Doctor Channing also has Michael Williams in the facility.  A prime subject for his experimentation.

Meanwhile in Russia, following Michael’s repeated bad decisions and subsequent capture, Krysztof Balazs and Lukas Kassik are pushing to take control.  They have the support of the Moonborn pack members behind them, and with control of the all the werewolf factions shifting to Krysztof, it would only be a matter of time before all-out war was declared upon mankind.  A move that many believe would ultimately mean the end for their kind.

With a death warrant from Russia now issued for both John Simpson and Marie Williams, what remains of Michael’s support is on the verge of being wiped out.  Mankind’s lack of tolerance for the werewolves has brought about more than just anger.  Once Michael is out of the way, the new alpha will ensure that the humans’ actions do not go unpunished.

War is coming.  And with it could come the extinction of an age old race…

DLS Review:
So here we have it.  The third and final instalment into Graeme Reynolds’ ‘High Moor’ werewolf trilogy.  Okay, so it’s only three books in total, but goddamn does it feel like the end of an era?!  Over the course of the books we’ve followed a host of wonderfully fleshed-out characters, all the way through their lives, and on to this devastatingly dramatic finale.

What really makes the ‘High Moor’ books so utterly addictive - and in turn so damn successful - is in the strength of the characters.  Graeme Reynolds knows how to breathe life into his characters.  Their believable, their loveable, and their stories and decisions are utterly convincing.  Through these books we’ve grown to know the characters; you can almost predict their responses and feel their pain.  This emotional connection is nothing if not an absolute testament to the author’s ability at characterisation.

For this final instalment Reynolds knows he’s already got his readers pretty much hanging on his every word.  The characters are already banked.  The plot is now pretty much being carried along by its own momentum.  As such, when the first page is turned, you just know that Book Three will be starting off in a damn good place.  And Reynolds capitalises on this ‘good place’ perfectly.

The book kick starts with a prologue which launches the reader straight into the chaotic mayhem of an all-out war between man and werewolf.  In an instant you’re engulfed in Reynold’s world once again - whereby werewolves are every bit as real as you and I.  The complexities of the different werewolf factions and types (pack or moonstruck) have already been extensively detailed within the previous books.  As such, Reynolds can now afford to dive straight into the cut-throat action for the final tale.

Within the space of just a few chapters it becomes apparent that Reynolds has upped his game considerably.  ‘High Moor’ (2011) and ‘High Moor II: Moonstruck’ (2013) were two damn impressive horror novels.  They breathed life back into werewolves and completely redefined the beast in a similar way to what John Landis did with ‘An American Werewolf In London’ (1981).  But with this final book Reynolds has gone on and taken the whole thing to a new level.

The expanse of the tale has opened up considerably.  No longer are we just within one small corner of Northern England.  Indeed, it’s expanded past the UK and we’re now looking at a story that spans across the breadth of Europe.

The complexities of the werewolf factions have also been built upon.  We’re now seeing the inner politics and conflicts of a tightly organised race that are now under attack.  The tension is palpable from the get go.  And it doesn’t let up one bit for the entire four-hundred or so pages of the story.

Furthermore this third instalment is by far and away the most action-rich and brutal.  The gore levels are through the roof when stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the previous two offerings.  Not only that but there’s a heart-racing urgency about it.  Trust me - there’s little to no let-up in the intensity of the storyline.  It races forth with such momentum, jumping from one dilemma to the next, always with a charging purpose that keeps you completely engaged.

As well as being considerably more action-packed and blood-drenched, the novel is also notably darker than its predecessors.  There are no winners here.  Much-loved characters are either cut down or put through absolute hell.  There’s cruelty and callousness on pretty much every other page.  And in showing us the werewolves had lives just like our own, before subjecting all of them to harrowing degrees of brutality at the hands of a scared government, you can’t help but feel crushed by it all.

Once again the ‘misjudged race of monsters’ concept brings back echoes of Clive Barker’s ‘Nightbreed’ (1990).  However, Graeme has pushed the mistreatment further – putting the numerous (and don’t forget quite innocent) families into a PoW style military camp reminiscent of those in WWII.  It’s gritty and grim and undeniably touches a sensitive nerve in all of us.

I have to admit that one thing which really knocked me for six with this third instalment is with the sheer volume of gut-punches that Reynolds delivers to the reader throughout the length of the novel.  There’s absolutely no feeling comfortable here.  Much-loved characters are killed off in the blink of an eye.  Loyalties are tested, oppression and unjustifiable counter-attacks flood the pages, and there’s literally no let-up from the over-hanging cloud of potential annihilation.  If you take a second to stand back from the story, you realise how much relentless intensity you’ve been subjected to.  It’s incredible how Reynolds has managed to maintain it for the duration of the novel…and how he’s managed to shape such a tight and well-formed plot out of the heart-in-mouth madness of it all.

And then we come to the ending.  The grand finale that will mark the inevitable closure of this incredible story.  It’s a tough one to pull off perfectly – with so many characters now feeling a part of you.  You’d expect an emotional roller-coaster of a ride for the ending.  But getting the balance required for all the elements to land just right requires skill.  And I pleased to say that Reynolds has pulled it off to absolute perfection.  We’re talking lump-in-your-throat raw emotions coupled with edge-of-the-seat tension and suspense here.  The sheer volume of explosive elements colliding at the end is incredible.  This is how it’s done folks.  This is how you end a trilogy.

As you’ve probably guessed from this review, there is no way that ‘Blood Moon’ will get anything but a full ten DLS skulls.  It’s the very definition of tooth and claw horror coupled with a finely-chiselled and intensely compelling storyline.

Graeme Reynolds’ ‘High Moor’ trilogy has been one of the most intense and emotionally-charged series I’ve had the pleasure to read.  It’s brutal and ferocious as well as hauntingly human.  Not often do you come away from reading a novel completely breathless – but I guarantee when you finally lay the ‘High Moor’ books to rest, you’ll be left gasping for air.

The novel runs for a total of 395 pages. 

© DLS Reviews

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