Charles Black: Read this one recently, and I know Dem's a fan.
Hal and Rowan Graham move to the village of Moorstone, where something strange is going on.
Despite the fact that it's fairly obvious what's afoot in the village, this was a very enjoyable read.
Demonik:I keep meaning to go back to this. I can honestly say that its one of the few novels that have scared and horrified me. Sweetheart, Sweetheart is also highly recommended. I'm sure we'll have a Taylor-fest on here at some point.
Cover by Peter Thorpe
This one’s for Dem’, who sent me a copy of the book and I know admires it greatly. I owe ya’. Wish you'd start that Taylor-fest.
Hal and Rowan Graham have moved from London to Crispin’s House in the small village of Moorstone. Their two-year-old son has died in an accident, and they’d learned of Moorstone from Paul Cassen, who works as a doctor in the village. Everything finally comes together when Hal’s novel Spectre sets them up financially for the next two or three years, then they learn from Paul Cassen that Crispin’s House is for sale.
The journey to the village ends tragically when Hal almost runs down an elderly woman walking in the middle of the road. Getting out of the car he follows her to a high rock, and almost persuades her to come to the car, when she suddenly throws herself to her death. Reluctant to tell Rowan what has happened he tells Cassen, who assures him that he’ll contact the right people and their move into the house needn’t be overshadowed by the woman’s suicide.
Cassen tells Hal that Emma Larkin had been diagnosed with cancer. Hal is puzzled by a comment the woman has made about painting the rocks. Cassen says she was never a painter.
Moorstone is a place which Rowan loves but where Hal feels oddly ill-at-ease. People want to move there, but they don’t find homes. He notices that the local people are mostly young and attractive, though there are one or two exceptions, like Miss Allardice, the historical novelist. Her secretary is young Allison Lucas, who only lives and works there while her husband is working abroad. Allison is pestered by Collins the librarian, a man who simply won’t take no for an answer.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about Moorstone, Hal learns, is Primrose House. For why would a village the size of Moorstone need a lunatic asylum?
And the only man who ever left Moorstone is Lewis Childs, the previous owner of Crispin's House, who now lies possibly near death in a hospital.
This is a quiet novel, with a gradually building sense of menace. I had the feeling that I knew how it would turn out; but eventually it delivered an ending which was subtly different to expectations and really quite dreadful.
Craig Herbertson: Rog,
was that ending dreadful as in 'hopelessly poor' or dreadful as in 'my god that terrified the shit out of me'?
There was certainly nothing poor about this book - or about anything of Bernard Taylor's that I've read. It didn't frighten me in the sense that, say, Susan Hill's The Woman in Black or the late occupant of one of the room's in the Outlook Hotel did. There's more a sense of dread as the protagonists face having absolutely everything taken away.
Maybe I will this time around, but I've the same problem with him as I have with many of the Ghost & Scholars crew; I have such fond, horrible memories of this stuff that I'd hate to go back and be disappointed or, in Taylor's case, un-scared (yes, it really did upset me terribly at the time.) I don't think I'll revisit Moorstone Sickness or the sumptuous Sweetheart, Sweetheart (which I've seen described as a 'seventies The Beckoning Fair One) but perhaps, in time, something like The Reaping ....
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.