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The Bull At The Gate (Torc of Moonlight Book 2) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Linda Acaster is a writer with talent. That she’s done research in depth for this book is clear. The detail, especially of the archaeology and history of York, is superb. I thought I knew the city, but I’ve learned things I never even suspected. York is, in fact, another character in the book.
The story is complex; an intertwining of present day events with those occurring in Roman York. And, ever-present, the raison d’être of hero Nick’s every move, is the enigmatic and mysterious entity that may or may not be Alice. The past returns to haunt Nick, literally, as he struggles to recover from the devastation of loss that occurred earlier in his life. To complicate matters, a new woman emerges uninvited into his life. Sophie is clearly a girl intent on a good time and, when she goes missing, her association with Nick places him in the field as a prime suspect with the local police.
Are Nick’s experiences real, imaginary, glimpses of another world and time, or the product of a damaged mind struggling with a past event too difficult to face? In weaving the tale, Linda Acaster keeps the reader guessing, providing clues but muddying the waters with an unreliable narrator.
Is this book crime, romance, historical, occult, or is it both a combination of these and something else entirely? And does it matter that it crosses genres? As a reader, such classification isn’t important to me. What matters is a gripping tale populated by characters I can empathise with and others I can thoroughly dislike. And this book provides exactly that. Had my circumstances been different, I would have read this at one sitting. As it was, I found myself eager to read it whenever time and opportunity allowed. I was driven to reach the end, to discover what would happen.
As with the first book in the series, this is a well-told tale with real depth and multiple themes explored in a unique style. And, as expected of a work of intelligence, it makes demands of the reader. There are several WTF? moments, times when the reader has to pause to consider, times when questions arise unanswered only to be clarified later in the story. I like that. Reading is far from a passive activity and Linda Acaster’s writing brings the occupation to life in a unique way.
I enjoyed the read and have no hesitation in recommending the book. And, let’s have the final book as soon as possible!
Nick feels responsible but is he? Is he deluded? Is he psychic? Are the horrifying visions the sensual visions that he experiences from within himself or from lethal, ancient forces outside? The author cleverly shows how 'modern' man reacts to these strange events by revealing how the police view Sophie's disappearance and Nick's odd history. Who is to say they are mistaken? That is the beguiling tightrope walk we are sent on throughout 'Bull at the Gate'. The final third of the novel, with Nick desperately seeking to find Sophie and Alice, is a exciting historical chase, full of twists and turns, fascinating clues and high stakes. Linda Acaster makes the reader care for her characters: they are not pawns being shifted about in a heartless chess game of 'find the historical fact'. This is superior story-telling of the highest order.
The novel has a long reach, with flashbacks to Roman times and a parallel storyline that reveals the beliefs of that period. Is there a time portal that opens? What is the deadly shape-shifter that lurks in water? These questions are left hanging for the third novel but so much is going on it does not matter. The author uses the setting and landscape of York superbly, making the city itself a mystery and a character. I walked the streets with Nick, learning with him the layers of the ancient Roman and Celtic settlements hidden just beneath those of the Medieval and Viking. The river, too is a character, both a source of life and a threat.
Trilogies and series novels always need to avoid the danger of leaving the reader feeling unsatisfied before the final novel that draws all the series threads together. 'Bull at the Gate' avoids this by having a second, strong storyline concerning the missing young woman Sophie. This story is cleverly enmeshed in the larger themes of the trilogy and the reader cares about her, especially in relation to the hero of the series, Nick. Nick is a great character, the glue that holds the series together. He thinks he is not brave but he keeps going, keeps struggling, keeps feeling, often in the teeth of overwhelming odds. By the end of 'Bull at the Gate', the reader has been in a hectic adventure, has had some resolution and can put the book aside feeling satisfied, while at the same time looking forward to the final part of the trilogy.