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on 22 January 2011
Torc of Moonlight is not the kind of book I normally read. That being said I still found it to be a fairly enjoyable read with detailed descriptions of the English countryside and an appreciation for the local history. The story centers around two college kids that fall in love, but are both touched by a magic from long long ago. Alice has an obsession with finding a special site that contained a water goddess. Nick is obsessed with Alice. They are both haunted by a man trapped between the realm of the living and the dead who just wants to use them to cross back to the land of the living.

This book kept me interested right up to the end trying to figure out what was going to happen. There were some parts that I found confusing, but that could very well be because a lot of British terminology is used and I am not familiar with it. I was actually a little surprised that I enjoyed the book at all seeing as it differs greatly from my normal fantasy read, but the passion of the author for the story was obvious and that is always a good thing.
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on 25 February 2011
Is it reincarnation, possession, or insanity? Those are the choices for 19-year-old Nicholas Blaketon when he meets the ethereal, virginal red-haired Alice Linwood. An American Studies major at an English university, Nick is injured in a rugby practice, and can't remember anything of the previous 24-hours except History major Alice and he's in for a drubbing by his mates because of that. It's not the only injury he'll receive in a very short time, either, but to Nick, nothing matters, except that he get to know Alice better. He can't explain it but when he's with her odd, almost magical, things happen; he's literally transported and transformed, in this Time but another as well and though at first it frightens him, he welcomes and savors it as part of her allure. So, though she wants nothing to do with him, Nick persists. Alice believes she's cursed, that anyone she really loves will die a violent death, but Nick's infatuation only makes him desire her more, and soon the two are a couple, happily wandering the English countryside searching for the shrine of an ancient Celtic water goddess which Alice is determined to find and re-store to the public eye. Then another figure enters the picture--Leonard Harkin, art teacher and Lothario, with a reputation for seducing his more attractive students. Len has had some type of relationship with Alice but now fears her almost as much as he fears the coming of nightfall in a way that's little short of psychotic. Taking refuge with Clare, an old student/girlfriend, Len begins a descent into madness as he's beset by hallucinations and apparitions he believes Alice has sent. Unknown to the three, there's a fourth presence in their lives--Ogrinius Licinius Vranaun, spirit of the long-dead leader of the ancient Celts of the area, friend to the invading Romans--alternately possessing Nick's body, transforming himself into droplets of rain or a watching animal, hovering and waiting to return himself to the corporeal plane and possess Alice as well.

The more Nick stays with Alice, the more he comes under her enchantment; as they visit the various ancient landsites, he experiences brief moments of displacement; he neglects his studies, his friends, anything distracting him from his obsession. Assaults by an unseen assailent, more lapses of memory, Len's moments of public madness--all head toward a culmination in which some or perhaps none will survive as an ancient force once more weaves its spell upon those living in the present.

MY OPINION: This is the best novel Linda Acaster has written so far! Coached in lyrical, almost poetically descriptive language, it leaps from one character to another with a speed that's dazzling and almost frenetic in its haste to convey their points of view. Though the classifications and terms of the British university system were a bit confusing, this was a minor obstacle to the story and the vivid descriptions made the countryside and the various Celtic sites come alive. Sad, haunting, even poignant, the characters of Nick, his beloved Alice, and Leonard are finely drawn to make us care about them. It's an enchanting story which leaves it up to the reader to decide if it's simply a story of obsession and psychological breakdown or if there are forces outside our present niche in Time which are trying to break through. It would make an eerie, unforgettable film. This is the first in a series of three novels concerning the adventures of student Nicholas Blaketon, and I personally can't wait for the others.
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on 21 February 2013
In Torc of Moonlight, Linda Acaster gives us a book which is more than simply a damn good read. This well crafted paranormal romance leads the reader through mysteries that are only gradually revealed, frightening us along the route taken by the possessed lovers. She builds empathy for the central characters, putting us inside their minds to explain their motives, drives and fears, and shredding our hearts with their emotional experiences. That she handles the male point of view with as much skill and sympathy as that of the female says a great deal about this writer's observational powers.

The story concerns a rugby-playing male student and the mysterious, beautiful and surprisingly tough history student he falls for. Her preoccupation with Celtic history and, specifically, the female spirits of sacred springs in North Yorkshire, underlines her very real concern for those she loves.

On a deeper level, though not intrusively, the novel deals with many themes. One that caught my imagination was the parallel of modern contact sports with ancient warrior ways. She portrays, with an understanding suggestive of her unlikely physical participation, the potential brutality of rugby. Her analogy shows how rule-breaking in sport renders the game less worthy and destroys team spirit. In the same way, her anti-hero, Ognirius, in his selfish pursuit of personal glory at the expense of his fellow countrymen, destroys trust and undermines the civilisation of his own time and that of the present day.

Linda handles sex scenes and love scenes with equal veracity, lending emotional honesty to the loving relationship of the main characters and contrasting this with the usage and guile displayed by those who indulge in sex merely for their own gain.

Detailed pictures of the city of Hull, its university, and the moorlands of North Yorkshire bring life to the setting of the novel without ever slowing the story. The plot moves, twists and turns to surprise, confuse and astound as it takes us through emotional, physical and spiritual conflicts to the inevitable denouement.

I could not put this book down and confidently recommend it to all who love well written novels with believable characters, intriguing stories and real settings.
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on 22 March 2013
The contemporary story is of students Nick Blaketon and Alice Linwood who meet as undergraduates at Hull University. Very different but drawn together. It's what is behind the reason they're drawn together that gives this book its amazing twist. The predatory lecturer and his past have a role to play and also a story from a whole lot further back. Linda Acaster gets inside the head of her characters in a way that not many authors manage, so that as a reader you revel in their triumphs, and are crushed by their despair. A compelling tale where the interwoven stories pick you up at the start and rush you along to the end.
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on 3 October 2015
This book has a credible extemporising story line which is supported by Linda's obvious familiarity with Celtic Yorkshire and Romano-British myth and legend. Her research on this has clearly been extensive as she writes with both command and authority throughout a well crafted plot. The tension is maintained through the relationship of Nick and Alice. Other characters and movements in time and space combine to make this exciting and at times gripping. Elements of magic, romance (dare I say?) and time shifting keep the suspense until the finale which is clearly leading us to the next book in the series.
Rugby playing - and at times loutish - Nick is the archetypal Celtic warrior without a battle to fight so plays the game as a form of proxy warfare. Alice is the unobtainable and mystically alluring repository of much desire and need even familiar in Celtic-Norse mythology, sort of Deirdre of the Sorrows and Norn weaving the fates of another but in the process weaving her own fortune.
Set in the University of Hull (second only to Cambridge!) the two meet as students who have polarities regarding their attitudes to learning but a mysterious link from their past reunites them in this very well crafted story.
Highly recommended.
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on 3 March 2011
This put me in mind of 1980/90s Phil Rickman, combining a little history and mythology in a contemporary thriller with fascinating characters. Can't wait to read more from Acaster.
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on 4 October 2014
A modern tale interwoven with the history of British goddesses and Roman times - an excellent story. Very glad I have a copy of the second book in the series waiting for me at home.
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on 10 March 2014
Completely gripped me to the end. I would recommend it to anyone who suspects there might be more to life than meets the eye.
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