Once Upon A Haunted Moor - Harper Fox
4.5 Stars

There’s nothing better than a good spooky story to get the brain juices going and the adrenaline flowing, and as far as spooks and stories go, Harper Fox’s Once Upon a Haunted Moor is a really good one.

The setting of this book is the perfect place for a legendary beast to reside, Halloween the perfect time for bogeymen to lurk in the shadows. The Beast of Bodmin Moor is alleged to haunt the fog shrouded and craggy hills above the village of Dark, where Constable Gideon Frayne is working a case that has haunted him day and night for a fortnight now. A child has disappeared from Dark without a trace, and Gideon is at wit’s end to find little Lorna Kemp and bring her home. Or, at least to give her mother closure. The first thing Harper Fox does so well right from the outset of this novella is draw the reader into the legend of the beast by supplying an atmospheric and ethereal sense of place. The second thing she does well is leave more questions than answers about the legend—is it merely a folktale handed down from generation to generation, or is there something that lurks in the mist, waiting to claim its next victim? The best part of any ghost story is that which can’t be proved and that which can’t be disproved, and the author balances belief with skepticism perfectly.

Never has the phrase desperate times call for desperate measures applied more so than in this case, and never has it been applied more appropriately than when psychic Lee Tyack shows up in the village to offer his particular talents to the investigation, though Gideon has a difficult time admitting he’s grown quite desperate enough to employ a charlatan to unravel this clue deprived crime. Circumstance, fear, and need throw these two men together, but it’s a little bit of loneliness and a lot of attraction between them that ignites their budding romance, then dials up the tension when Lee, too, disappears. Harper Fox is playing this relationship out, thank goodness, resisting the insta-love temptation, for which I am truly grateful, but before I can say I’m invested in this one, I need to see these two men together outside of them working a case. The potential is there, no doubt, but there’s not quite enough there yet to support my own insta-love for them. I’m sure that’s being saved for the books to come, however, and I’ll be reading each and every one of them to be sure.

Once Upon a Haunted Moor is a bit of a cat-and-mouse story—the reader is given a pretty significant clue to the kidnapper’s identity before enough evidence comes together for Gideon to make a case, or at least before he’s willing to believe what he sees. When the chase gets underway in a race-against-the-clock rescue, as well as to apprehend the culprit, the tension hits just the right pitch to once again mix reality with legend, which all leads to this book’s happy for now ending and the promise that Gideon and Lee working together is sure to bring more supernatural suspense, and more romance too.