Page Count 256
Publication date April 2019/ Publisher Flame Tree Press
Isolated on the moors of northern England, the town of Moonwell has remained faithful to their Druid traditions and kept their old rituals alive. Right-wing evangelist Godwin Mann isn’t about to let that continue, and his intolerant brand of fundamentalism has struck a chord with the residents. But Mann goes too far when he descends into the pit where the ancient being who’s been worshipped by the Druids for centuries is said to dwell.
What emerges is no longer Mann, but a demon in Mann’s shape, and only the town’s outcasts can see that something is horribly wrong…
Goodreads/ Flame Tree Press detailed synopsis here
The first thing you need to know is The Hungry Moon was originally published in 1986.
There are no markers of time in this tale to remind you that the character’s homophobic, prudish and overtly Christian attitudes were common in small towns of past eras. Children were caned at school and new comers or single women were instantly distrusted. Although familiar, I found it difficult to pinpoint exactly when in time The Hungry Moon was set.
Campbell writes a large cast of characters, but unlike similar style stories by others such as King there doesn’t seem to be much meaningful development. I got no sense of a main character per se, and there was nothing proactive from the ones we heard of most.
My strongest reaction was to Brian. His division between what he secretly desired and his own self disgust made for an interesting battle of willpower. I swung between pity and loathing through the course of his story line.
I did find the druid lore interesting but perhaps a little lacking in it’s deployment. I needed more of the link between the past and the present effects on Godwin Mann.
I enjoy the small town turned evil trope and that’s the main vein here. Religious cults and censorship scare me in their viability, humans really are the truest of all monsters. Though I would have liked to see more fight from our protagonists in The Hungry Moon, the Booths, Craig and Vera especially were quite defeatist.
I’ve a soft spot for 80s horror novels but perhaps they’ve saturated my reading, The Hungry Moon felt much like any other of it’s time and for me was missing the additional character connections I need to really pique my interest.
Campbell was at his best when writing suspense, conjuring goosebumps at the edge of the cave and giving me the sense of panic when facing the dark shrouding Moonwell. The helplessness of being entirely cut off from the world outside gave me that extra claustrophobia I like in a good horror.
The Hungry Moon is a mix of small town prejudice, religious extremism, ancient folklore and shiver inducing monstrosities guaranteed to make you cringe from the dark.