Once Upon a Haunted Moor by Harper Fox, narrated by Tim Gilbert

Black and white photo of a man in the distance walking against a wire fenceline on a misty moorWhy I read it:  My friend Caz recommended this series to me.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.

But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.

Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I enjoyed the story very much. It was a short (novella-length) audio and, considering that the main characters had not met before it began, it managed to sell me on the budding relationship between Gideon and Lee. There is a bit of insta-lust (nothing wrong with that) and perhaps one or two narrative jumps which suprised me just a little in the romantic story but nothing I wasn’t able to go with fairly easily. Gideon’s last relationship broke down because he was closeted. It’s clear that he has enough regret about that and enough time had passed that when Lee bobs up in his life, Gideon wasn’t likely to let that happen again. So it made sense to me.

I also enjoyed the mix of the psychic (Lee’s talent) and Gideon’s solid police work. The only place the mystery plot fell down a little for me was in the motivation of the villian. Even at the end of the listen I wasn’t entirely sure what [redacted] had been trying to achieve exactly. How it could have worked out successfully is beyond me and I’m the type of reader/listener who likes those sorts of loose ends tied up. However, up until that last bit where it became clear that there was a bit wanting in terms of that part of the story, I enjoyed it very much.

I spent a week in Cornwall in 2016 so I had an idea about what the setting looked like. I’ve even been to Truro! So it was a bit of extra fun for me to revisit the area in Once Upon A Haunted Moor. I’m certainly keen to  listen to the rest of the series and follow the progression of the romance between Gideon and Lee. This book ends on a solid HFN and is complete in itself but I do like a continuing series where the romance continues to build and I liked both characters so I’m in.

What else? The narration was very good. The character differentiation was clear and I liked the emotion Tim Gilbert added to the story – neither overdone nor too understated. My only real criticism is that there were a number of times that there was insufficient gap between one sentence and the next. I’m unsure whether this was an editing issue or something else. It wasn’t a big deal and it didn’t significantly detract from my enjoyment of the narration.

Grade: B

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2 comments on “Once Upon a Haunted Moor by Harper Fox, narrated by Tim Gilbert

  1. Merrian

    I have this in Mount TBR. I think Harper Fox does decent people caring about their little bit of the world really well. I am reading more SFF with lots of world saving at the moment. The brain and heart require what book food they require

  2. Kaetrin

    I’ve been binge listening to Harper Fox titles lately. She has some of the best narrators!

    World-saving is good. We need more of that IRL I reckon. 🙂

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