Wednesday 26 September 2012

Best Pick – 'Torc of Moonlight' by Linda Acaster

It’s great to have our writing appreciated, and a decent review can make our day. A fan letter from a reader can make our week.

So imagine my delight when I opened an email to discover that a reader had not only taken the time to nominate my supernatural thriller Torc of Moonlight for consideration as Indie Book of the Day, but that it had jumped the hurdles and had won the award. Ya-hee!!

Set in the UK, Torc of Moonlight is a gritty paranormal romance dealing with the resurrection of a Celtic water goddess. It features Nick, a college student whose bright-eyed take on life, love and reality receives a serious knock when he meets studious Alice. Is she leading him into a downward spiral of paranoia? Or are they unconsciously linking into a wayward pre-Roman time-line where a man he terms ‘The Other’ is reliving his life through Nick’s actions? One of them is in danger, but is it Alice or is it Nick?
In keeping with Celtic lore and the power of three, the novel is the first in a trilogy set in university cities in northern England. Every place, every building, every road mentioned actually exists. Don’t venture there in the dark. Those who do tend to leave 5 star reviews.


 He’d seduced her, Nick realised. That’s what had happened. Hawkins had seduced Alice, seduced her and used her and thrown her aside.
The bastard. No wonder she didn’t want anything to do with him. No wonder her only outlet was her work and her books. The bastard.
He picked up his glass again, but it was empty. No one was serving. Nick looked round the pine tables, wondering where the barman had gone. His brain seemed to be floating free of his skull. What was the matter with him? He’d only had two.
Outside the door to the McCarthy people swirled about him, clattering up and down the stone steps. He stood a moment in the maelstrom listening to the ebb and flow of their happy chatter. He’d been happy once. Alice would have been happy. Once.
The steps led up to the canteen, offices, and the Sanctuary bar. He ignored them all. Down the long corridor, far down the corridor, Alice’s poster was tacked to the wall. One tug had it free, the single red drawing pin spinning away to the tiled floor. The next moment he was pushing through the door of the HullFire office.
The girl behind the computer screen looked up with a smile that faded to a suspicious frown. Nick slapped the poster across her keyboard.
‘Hawkins,’ he snapped. ‘Who is he?’
The girl blinked, and pushed herself back on her wheeled chair. ‘What?’
‘Hawkins,’ Nick repeated, stabbing a finger at the blacked-out name on the poster beneath Alice’s head. ‘Who is he and where can I find him?’
Her gaze followed his hand, and then took in the poster as a whole. ‘Oh,’ she said.
Nick leant over her desk. ‘Who is he?’
The girl stood, pushing her face towards his, matching his aggression. ‘What’s your problem? Never heard of please and thank you?’ Her eyes flashed. ‘Our lecherous lecturer laid your girlfriend, has he?’
Nick straightened, catching his breath. The girl eased her stance in return.
‘Figures,’ she said. ‘We thought this little interlude was too good to be true. Helen is the one you need to speak to. She did an exposé a couple of years back. Nearly had him turfed out.’
‘Where is he?’
‘Forget it, or you’ll end up turfed out. And that prat isn’t worth your future.’
‘I’ve never heard of him. Lecturer in what?’
‘Forget it. Acting the jilted lover isn’t going to score you any points around here.’
‘Helen, then. Where will I find this Helen?’
‘Right here.’
Behind him the door swung gently on its hinges to reveal an angular woman in her late twenties wearing a mauve silk jacket and a short black skirt. In her heels she was taller than Nick. At sight of the poster she raised a darkly pencilled eyebrow.
‘Mother Earth Society, eh? Not a devotee, are you, desperately trying to be one with nature?’ Her gaze washed over his scarred face. ‘I guess not. Hardly the bardic type.’
‘He’s looking for Harkin,’ the girl told her.
‘Hawkins,’ Nick corrected.
The woman shook her head. ‘Leonard Harkin, our celebrated hippie that never was, chief practitioner of free love and peace, man.’ She swayed, giving an imitation of being stoned. ‘Except he wraps it up with candles and secret invocations.’
The girl shot her a warning look. ‘Helen...’
‘But not everyone,’ Helen continued, ‘only the impressionable ones, the ones he wants to shag. Your girlfriend. Presumably.’
‘Where will I find him?’
‘Now? Pass. His studio’s in Loten. You could try there. Of course, at this hour he could be scraping his reptiles on Cranbrook.’ She looked beyond his shoulder to the girl behind the desk. ‘Time to call it a day, Jenny.’
Nick frowned. ‘This Harkin lectures in…?’
Helen unhooked a coat from the back of the door and passed it over the desk. Jenny flicked the switch on the computer and its incessant hum fell silent in the tiny office.
‘You’re not listening,’ Helen told him. ‘Loten. Studio. You’ll find it if you want to. Can hardly miss it really.’ She gestured towards the corridor. ‘Would you like to go ahead of us so we can lock up?’
Nick stepped by her and kept on walking. Helen followed him out of the office, watching his determined stride with interest as Jenny turned the key.
‘You shouldn’t have done that,’ Jenny said. ‘If he flattens Harkin he’ll get thrown out. If he mentions your name you’ll get thrown out. They’ll bring up that harassment claim he made against you.’
Helen smiled, unperturbed. ‘I hope he does flatten Harkin. I hope he beats the shit out of him. Justice has been a long time coming.’ She narrowed her eyes. ‘Besides, you never can tell. A scapegoat might come in handy.’

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