Book Reviews

Book Review: The Complete Tor by Anthony Morgan-Clark


This book was reviewed for Reader’s Favourite


The Complete Tor by Anthony Morgan-Clark is a collection of all three Tor novels, plus two short stories. Suicide, homicide, accidental death. The Tor doesn’t care the means, so long as blood toll is paid.


     /‘Ware the raven’s midnight call,

           ‘Ware the frozen darkness.

      ‘Ware the stones standing tall,

           ‘Ware the shadowed Heartless./


                   ~JAdM, ©2016


I love it when books can inspire me to write poetry or philosophical discourse. These books did both. I’ve included the poem here because it is directly about the book. I hope the author enjoys it.


The first book, Whiteshill, begins with James Immola, whose last name is not ‘immolation’ as my tablet keeps trying to correct it. James leaves a bar one night with a lady named Rebecca. She takes him up to the Tor, where things get a little creepy. Did I say little? I meant hella creepy, as the forest comes alive and rips him up but good.


That’s not the beginning though. It truly begins with an unnamed narrator addressing you the reader, as if you were in his cottage with him. Later we learn He is Symeon, a chronicler and storyweaver. He tells of James in a brief vignette, then we revisit Symeon in his old-fashioned cottage as he toasts teacakes, after which we get into the bulk of the story. James’s tale, brief though it was, took place in the 70s.


This new adventure happens during the 80s, where a young boy disappears one summer. After the disappearance his friends, Martin and Eddie, notice odd things, like lights up on the Tor that can’t be explained, the arrival of a strange boy named Rene, and eerie shadow people. A trip to the nearby Dadeni Cottage turns up a single shoe, like the ones their friend wore.


The single shoe does little to advance the case, so the two boys decide to take the fight to the beings up on the Tor. Though they succeed, and the disappearances stopped occurring for a time, their friend does not return. Like James before him, Tony’s story disappears to the far distant recesses of time.


The second Tor book, Rest, is a first person perspective, unlike the other two books in the collection. It starts with snapshots of the narrator growing up, reminiscing over scant memories of a father who disappeared when the narrator was young. Moving forward in time, there’s an odd interlude on a beach cove, before we are fully immersed in the present, where we learn our narrator’s name is Joe.


The woman from the beach is Rebecca. Joe is quite smitten with Rebecca from the first. Their relationship grows, blossoming into love. To Joe, it seems perfection incarnate. Alas, it’s not to last. Joe discovers dangerous secrets Rebecca’s been keeping. Secrets that can drag them both under.


The final book, Foundations, brings us to present day, with such amenities as cell phones and the like. Andrew DeVere and his wife Georgia move into Dadeni Cottage, the second of the buildings standing tall with the Tor. Perhaps they would have done better to question just why Dadeni Cottage remains available for rent. As many whispered rumours abound regarding this hidden home as they do of the Tor itself. The DeVere’s have barely moved in when things go south for them. Way down Antarctic south.


This story is more a haunting story, or possibly a vivid psychological break from reality due to severe trauma. Andrew seems the type of personality to have this happen to him. Or, the closeness of the Tor could be the cause. All three stories leave it open, at least in my mind, so that the events could be supernatural or psychological w/ no underlying supernatural events, though in both scenarios the Tor would be the culprit. One of my favourite horror movies, Session 9, is like this, leaving it open to the viewer to decide- demon or psychosis.


The Cauldron was a short dealing with the whereabouts of Rebecca from Rest, when she wasn’t with Joe. At least, it dealt with one instance, and it added another piece of the puzzle to the Rest storyline. Searching the Tor gave insights to Symeon and his role in things.


I really enjoyed all of the stories in this omnibus. Whiteshall reminded me of this movie I watched recently, called The Hallow. The story was engaging, urging the reader on. Rest contained one of my favourite phrases- ‘Her soft, lilting voice poured into my ears and down my spine like honeyed mercury.’ I love stumbling across unique ways of looking at things. Beautiful! This story was also very heavy on time and its passage, and what we make of our lives. In fact, it prompted a philosophical discourse from me. I love stories that can do that. They make you think of the deep questions in life. It’s tone is also quite different from Whiteshill. The previous book was driven by a pervading fear. Foundations was probably my favourite story. Each of the stories within here have had their own distinct flavour. Donnell shows up yet again. I love the Constable, now Sarge. Donnell is a staid yet open-minded man. To me, he represents order in chaos. He’s a solid, grounded man. I’d even go so far as to say he’s part of the ‘foundation’ of the town of Batsford. Always present, always ready to help.
???? Highly recommended if you enjoy things like the book Jericho by Alex Gordon, Fragment by Warren Fahy, books by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, and Michael Crichton, and the book The Dark by David C. Cassidy. Also, movies such as The Hallow, Session 9 and the book/movie Shutter Island.

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