Guardians of the Haunted Moor by Harper Fox ~ Buddy Review by Ulysses and Beverley

Guardians-of-the-Haunted-MoorTitle: Guardians of the Haunted Moor

Author: Harper Fox

Publisher: FoxTales

Cover Artist: Harper Fox

Ulysses’s Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Beverley’s Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 08/01/2015

Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)

Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Mystery

Summary:

(Book 5 in the Tyack & Frayne Mystery series.)

The wedding is just the beginning…

Gideon and Lee have spent a year in chaotic married bliss, with all the trimmings – a dog, tricky in-laws, and a baby girl they both adore. But even the best of lives can be fragile, and a shocking family loss hits their new world like a demolition ball.

Gideon has little energy left to investigate a murder that’s taken place in the fields outside Dark. He still has his duties to his community, though, and with Lee at his side, he begins to unfold the mysterious death of Farmer John Bowe. It’s harvest time, ancient West Country magic in the air, and rumours are flying through the village of an enemy Gideon thought he’d left behind long ago.

Can the beast of Bodmin possibly be real? Everything in Gideon’s stoical police-sergeant’s nature says no. But Lee has taught him to see the world differently, and now they must pool their resources to unmask a killer before more lives are lost – and somehow find a way to mend their shattered family, too.

Ulysses’s View:

Harper Fox’s Tyack and Frayne series is different from her stand-alone books. Yes, there’s the same gorgeous, polished writing, but you’re less aware of it in this series. What really drives these books is the people who populate them. Front and center are Lee Tyack and Gideon Frayne—the clairvoyant and the cop. Fox manages to make Lee’s unearthly psychic gifts seem like any other highly-developed talent, and his intensely nurturing, loving personality is more important than his other aspects. Gideon, big strong gentle Cornish policeman, is possibly one of my favorite characters ever. Beyond this, he has been quietly altered by his relationship with Lee, and now perceives the world with a wiser, sadder and more deeply penetrating pair of eyes. He has become the protector of his town, more than simply a policeman who upholds the local laws. There is a particular moment when Gideon is confronted by a juvenile delinquent, just as familiar to the reader as to Gideon by this time in the series.

Darren dropped his precocious adulthood on the pavement and climbed him like a monkey. Or a rat up a drainpipe…

It’s a startling image of a neglected and troubled adolescent turning to the town copper for comfort. Gideon holds him, somehow accepted his role as guardian, even when dealing with the least of Dark’s citizens.

Fox has also surrounded these men with people who matter—to them and to us. Gideon’s stiff ministerial brother, Ezekial, increasingly human and lovable; their frail but shrewd mother; the various passing townspeople who make up part of the shifting tapestry of their life together. One of the core appeals for the reader is the way all the folks of the Cornish village of Dark have come to simply understand that Gideon and Lee are not only a couple, but a special, significant couple in the life of their town.

The central themes of this latest book are those of love and loss, as our boys become parents, and as frightening complications arise that threaten to tear their happy lives apart. There is also a fascinating, not-quite-resolved discussion that weaves in and out of the plot, that holds up psychic powers next to good old madness. Thus Fox makes us ponder the truth of Lee’s gifts, and wonder perhaps if what we see as madness is this world is simply misunderstood perception of another world. That’s a dangerous door to open, but Fox handles it elegantly and leaves us thinking.

There cannot be too many more of this series left. But I hope we’ll get to see Lee and Gideon at least one more time before we say goodbye to his remarkable, enviable couple.

Beverley’s View:

This is the fifth and sadly, the last in the Tyack and Frayne Mysteries. As always Harper Fox has given us a beautifully atmospheric work, with elements that took my breath away. In the prologue, Gideon Frayne describes his husband, Lee Tyack as,

His beautiful west-coast lad was all the silver part of his spectrum today, a winter-beach pallor under his skin, his eyes full of strange lights.

In this, we see the strength of these tales and Ms Fox’s work – she tells wonderful stories with writing that has the power to stun with its descriptive beauty. ‘Guardians of the Moor’ returns us to the familiar ground of Bodmin Moor, and the village of Dark. It is home turf for these characters, policeman and paranormal advisor – and of course now loving husbands. This doesn’t make the tale any the less gruesome in places, but ensures emotions run high, causing this reader to blink back tears by the end of the first quarter.

Simply put, there are heart-breaking events at home for our heroes, and a gruesome murder on the eve of Guldize, the Pagan harvest home celebrations. The mixture of Pagan ritual, paranormal activities and nature, is used in a way that makes the unbelievable – believable and the believable feel it’s missing something. As you read this tale – part investigation of the murder, part personal and paranormal revelation – you realise that the author is taking you on this journey so gently, with such poetics in the narrative structure, you will accept any outcome – be it paranormal, prosaic, or a combination of both.

These characters, Tyack and Frayne, are so well known to the reader now you would be forgiven for thinking they might retreat a little for the sake of the plot, but they do not, and should not. They are central as always, and Harper Fox illustrates metaphorically, how relationships grow, change and strengthen through time, and even hardship. There are some lovely new characters to meet in this episode – particularly Sergeant Pendower. He reminded me of the Cornish police’s answer to Mulder, or would that be Scully? Oh and Granny Ragwen, a character who drags an ancient esoteric atmosphere in her wake, but raises a more human question regarding those with clairvoyant sensitivities of Lee’s.

As always I do not want to give too much away – the linguistic journey Harper Fox takes the reader,and her characters, on is as enjoyable as the story itself. This is probably the only novella in this series that I feel cannot be read as a standalone. The emotional plot line packs a greater punch when read as part of the series.

In a novella where eyes lit by a fire become –

…dark eyes, lambent in the bonfire’s tawny blaze

And a policeman having a quiet moment –

He didn’t feel like a copper anymore – just a man, sharing a sunlit silence with the other half of his soul.

Harper Fox beguiles me again – this is the perfect ending to a perfectly delightful series.

Links

Guardians of the Haunted Moor on Goodreads
FoxTales
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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