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The Bull At The Gate (Torc of Moonlight Book 2) Kindle Edition
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In the same place but centuries earlier, retired Roman legionary Vibius Fulcinius, now Keeper of the Temple of Luna, metes out a gruesome punishment to an initiate who misjudges temple etiquette.
In modern York, Nick finds a silver plaque that holds a key to the secret he seeks, but he’s too naïve to recognise that its condition marks it either as stolen or as a deliberate counterfeit. He can’t explain to his co-workers where it came from. He barely understands it himself. When a colleague goes missing, Nick’s odd behaviour is under the microscope. The police ferret out the strange details of Alice’s death, and suddenly Nick is in very deep water, which has a certain irony, as it was a shrine to a water goddess that Alice was seeking when she died.
While Vibius fights to protect the sanctity of the Temple of Luna, Nick and his workmates brush shoulders with ancient rites of passage. Lines blur through the layers of history that make up modern York, where Roman temples built with stone plundered from ancient shrines are still out in plain sight to the 21st century eye. The annual Jorvik Festival plays backdrop to mounting tension as the plotlines weave towards their conclusion. It’s a fast-moving paranormal thriller that will raise the hairs at the back of your neck as it becomes clear that there is no going back for Nick. In taking his first tentative step on this journey, he slammed the door behind him. The only question is whether he can summon the strength to solve the puzzle in time to influence the outcome and prevent another tragedy.
Following Nick through modern York, and Vibius through Roman York gives a real sense of this historic town, with the weight of history bearing down from all sides.
The Bull at the Gate is the second of Linda Acaster’s occult suspense trilogy featuring Nick Blaketon.
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!
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