Received with thanks from the author in return for an honest review.
I had no expectations with ‘Moonlight’ as I hadn’t read the synopsis. This is largely due to the fact that I have enjoyed every book of Tim’s that I have read so far and wanted to start reading the main novel as soon as possible. The prologue grips the reader from the very beginning, ‘”Don’t hurt me,” the girl sobbed….’, setting the scene with fear and tension as a young girl is being attacked. At first the reader has no idea who is attacking the girl but it soon becomes clear. For an opening scene, this gets the heartrate beating fast as you really feel for the victim, feel her fear and desperation with the added extras of gore and horror. Please note that the intended audience for this novel is young adult and adults alike.
As Chapter One begins we are introduced to the main male character, Thaddeus Blake. Over the coming pages we find out that he is a wealthy man, with a mansion at St. Ives in Cornwall that he inherited along with his wealth. He travels to London to meet his publisher and it is whilst he is in London that he notices Winter McCall.
Unfortunately for Winter, she has not lived such a lavish lifestyle. Begging on the streets outside train stations is where she has ended up every night in the hope to be given enough money to put food in her belly. Not one for selling her body like some did, Winter finds it very difficult to make ends meet, to survive.
In a creepy sort of way, once he had noticed Winter, Thaddeus watched her carefully from a distance. For the first few days he would come night after night, just watching her, watching how people treated her and how she handled them. When he feels ready he approaches Winter, offering to buy her dinner and to explain what he would like to do for her.
Although Winter is very doubtful and doesn’t trust Thaddeus there is something about his voice and besides, what did she really have to lose? Thaddeus’ offer is for Winter to travel to St. Ives with him to his mansion where she would be fed, clothed, paid and have a roof over her head. Her side of the bargain is to cook and clean for him as well as to carry out some odd tasks that he would ask of her from time to time. One of these being to stand in the moonlight when there is a full moon.
The atmosphere of this book is very creepy. Although Thaddeus has a soothing voice, good looks and appears to be helping Winter, the reader cannot trust him and is constantly worried about Winter’s well-being. Winter is occasionally ridiculed by him only for him to realise and apologise. She knows that there is more to him than meets the eye and she does try to find out. The whole setting is very strange. During most part of the day Winter is left alone in the mansion whilst Thaddeus is in his room.
In order to create this dark, eerie atmosphere I did find the story in parts to be a little slow. When Winter is on her own I imagined what it is like to be in a large, strange house alone with nothing but your mind and imagination going wild. Paranoia sets in. Insecurity sets in. Time drags. Tim O’Rourke has written this very cleverly though as the reader goes through all of these motions with Winter. I was screaming for her to run. Every ounce of mistrust, every ounce of fear the reader can feel.
Without spoiling the story, as it nears the end there is a great deal of action, gore, horror and emotions running wild. The story is like an orchestra playing and the music gradually builds up, becoming louder and louder until it reaches a great crescendo. I was a little conscious in the middle of this book, thinking how indecisive Winter was about running or staying, and was hoping for more action and more underlying plots, BUT boy did I get what I wanted as the story grew!
Some readers may think Winter to be foolish by going along with Thaddeus, better the devil you know, as she placed herself in a vulnerable situation, alone with a guy she didn’t even know and couldn’t trust. However, a part of me cannot help but feel that she was courageous, she took a risk. But, did the risk pay off? With the danger that ensued it definitely made her think about her choices. As Thaddeus places Winter in a dangerous position, for partly his own benefit, there is a great deal of mistrust for him and he is partly a coward for doing this.
I think that the length of this novel was just right. As with all of the Tim O’Rourke books that I have read to date ‘Moonlight’ makes the reader feel as if they are a part of the story. You feel for Winter as if she were your sister or best friend. And I cannot explain how much terror you feel for her. I just wanted to jump into the book and pull her out to safety. There are very few authors that make the reader feel like they can almost touch the characters and live in the story but Tim O’Rourke has this fascinating gift. I would definitely recommend to any young adult/adult, depending on the intended audience, to read Tim’s books. You will not be disappointed. If you’ve tried once, try another. I find these stories suck you in and you are in another world. This is fantasy as it’s best! I will be looking forward to the following two books in this Moon Trilogy.
Other series’ to try are Keira Hudson, Black Hill Farm, Samantha Carter and Doorways. You can find all information on Tim’s website.
Reviewed by Caroline Barker