By Author / Illustrator
Paperback / softback
A fearsome beast lurks deep in the Forest of Tay. Under cover of darkness it emerges to feed on the local farmer's sheep - and, sometimes, the farmers themselves. Frazer McCloud believes it's a wolf but some whisper that it's the Cu Sith, a creature summoned by the mysterious 'Walkers in the Woods'.
Callum is Fraser's young apprentice. He's understandably apprehensive when Fraser insists that he must help hunt down and kill the beast. In the local village, Callum meets Mhairi, the innkeeper's daughter, who knows more about the Walkers than she really should. As time passes, the killings become ever more audacious - and Callum realises he has every reason to be afraid...
I really enjoyed reading this book. I've read a lot of child/teen fiction, and this was something different. If you like a mystery, mythological creatures, or wolves you'll love this story as it gradually unfolds to reveal more.
A Hunter's Moon has a gentle beginning to set the scene which really gathers pace towards the end. The main character, Callum, is pretty much Fraser's unpaid servant. He is tied by his father's gambling debts to a bully of a man who works him hard and treats him poorly. Fraser is flattered by a rich out-of-town visitor, Colonel Chivers, who has a problem with a wild animal preying on his tenants' livestock. Colonel Chivers clearly hasn't told Fraser the full story but Fraser is vain and seduced by a promise of a lucrative payout. Callum, however, is not even free to choose his own path so is dragged along for the ride.
Although Callum is a more reserved character, he is very intuitive and observant and picks up on clues that his master, Fraser, misses. As they set off on their quest to slay the beast that is preying on livestock and the local farmers themselves, they encounter some mysterious characters along the way. They hear tales that the beast is not the wolf that they thought they were hired to slaughter but a Cu Sith. I had never heard of a Cu Sith before but googled it to discover that it is a mythological hound found in the folklore of Scotland. The Cu Sith is thought to make its home in the clefts of rocks and to roam the moors of the Highlands. It is usually described as having a shaggy, dark green coat and being as large as a small cow.
With the snippets that Callum has gleaned from speaking with local tenants, he is quite rightly terrified of this beast. He knows full well that Fraser will not listen or take any of the myths or stories heard seriously. Fraser isn't at all superstitious. Even as time passes, and the killings become more audacious, Fraser isn't going to back down. He has made a promise to the rich landowner and intends to keep it.
I liked the easy friendship that formed between Callum and Mhairi, the pub landlord's adopted daughter. (Mhairi was found wandering in the forest following a wish that Andrew, the pub landlord, and his wife Isla made at the Clootie Well that they are blessed with a child.) Mhairi is suspected to be a forest walker and is therefore not trusted by some of the villagers.
There is a nice blend of fantasy with reality in this book. It will appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy/mystery/terror and adventure. I loved it. I wouldn't recommend that you read it in a forest at night, though, as that is when the Cu Sith emerges to feed…
282 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+