This is my second foray into the mind and writing of Bernard Taylor, English horror/suspense author from the 1970’s onwards. Once again I lament the fact that this author’s works were virtually unknown to me until I was introduced recently to “Sweetheart Sweetheart” (1977) and have now come to love his quiet, unassuming atmospheric and yet highly charged and readable horror delights!!
If you are expecting horror that is full on, extreme, graphic or visceral then perhaps Bernard Taylor’s writing may not be to your taste. However if you enjoy a story that slowly builds with seemingly innocent but possibly disturbing characters then “The Moorstone Sickness” is a delight to be discovered.
Hal and Rowan Graham are moving to the quaint and perfect village of Moorstone (so named because of the enormous stone that overshadows it) They lost their son Adam in tragic circumstances and hope that this change of life and pace will help kindle their relationship and allow a fresh start. Ah yes the perfect village with the perfect country folk; Paul Cassen, who introduced them to “Crispin’s House”, Alison Lucas, also a newcomer to Moorstone, Tom Freeman gardener, Mrs Palfrey housekeeper, Miss Banks the headmistress, Woodson the butcher, large and jolly, Marriatt the vet, with hair at his temples like white wings.....”The smiling beautiful people of Moorstone...And they were beautiful, most of them.”
The author’s style means that the story is slow to build and we follow Hal and Rowan on a daily basis as they become acquainted with village life and are gradually integrated into the social scenes and routines of the villagers. I have to admit I began to find myself a little distracted with events as they unfolded, indeed so slow was the pace at certain points that I thought I might have been in danger of falling asleep before those beautiful residents.....but I need not have feared! This is all part of the charm and elegant writing style of Bernard Taylor, casually leading the reader along in a very nonchalant fashion but ever so expertly pointing him towards an astounding conclusion. The pace and rhythm of the story is akin to an orchestra concerto building to a shattering crescendo and the final pages had me holding my breath as Hal and Rowan were faced with a totally unexpected horror and something that would change the rest of their lives forever.
To say more about the story or to delve deeper into the plot would spoil the wonderful gifts that Bernard Taylor’s writing has to offer to the intelligent horror reader. Once again I find myself awarding this essentially English author a 5 star review and wonder why his writing never received the commercial success it so richly deserved.