Blog tour: Crow Moon by Suzy Aspley

Crow Moon

This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

‘When the crow moon rises, the darkness is unleashed…

‘Martha Strangeways is struggling to find purpose in her life, after giving up her career as an investigative reporter when her young twins died in a house fire.

‘Overwhelmed by guilt and grief, her life changes when she stumbles across the body of a missing teenager – a tragedy that turns even more sinister when a poem about crows is discovered inked onto his back…

‘When another teenager goes missing in the remote landscape, Martha is drawn into the investigation, teaming up with DI Derek Summers, as malevolent rumours begin to spread and paranoia grows.

‘As darkness descends on the village of Strathbran, it soon becomes clear that no one is safe, including Martha…’

Crow Moon

In Crow Moon, by Suzy Aspley, we follow erstwhile journalist Martha Strangeways as she investigates the sinister murder of a local teenager, Fraser MacDonald.

Martha has personal motivations for getting involved: not only was it she who discovered the body while walking her dogs in the woods, but Fraser was a friend of her son, Dougie.

Having lost her twin toddlers in a house fire two years previously, Martha is understandably frightened that something will happen to her surviving child.

Her anxiety and efforts intensify when another friend of Dougie’s, Christie Campbell, disappears. Martha has reason to believe that lore about a witch who was put to death in the area hundreds of years ago is key to solving the recent crimes – and that Dougie will be next.

I do enjoy a crime novel with elements of the Gothic and supernatural about it, and Crow Moon fits the bill nicely.

Featuring a witch so notorious she’s been immortalised in poetry, a ritual that appears to have awoken something evil, extensive woodlands, a grand old church, a gloomy manse, a minister who might not be all he seems, and family disfunction and tragedy, this book will particularly appeal to fans of C. J. Tudor and Aspley’s Orenda stablemate Matt Wesolowski.

I was absolutely captivated by the legend of the Feannag Dhubh (black crow) witch – what she was supposedly capable of and did, and how she was executed at a moondial close to the remains of Martha’s former home – as well as that of the eponymous Crow Moon, the full moon in March when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter.

Accordingly, crows pop up throughout the story, often either adding to the creepy atmosphere by lurking in the characters’ vicinity, or providing a classic jump scare!

While I guessed whodunit early on (I’m pretty sure I was meant to – if not, it’s a sign I was really engaging with the book!), I nonetheless enjoyed watching Martha, and her irrepressible friend Orla – who brings some levity to proceedings – put the pieces together for themselves.

I was also highly intrigued by the perpetrator – their backstory, motivations, state of mind, and where the Feannag Dubh fitted in with these – and was satisfied when their identity was finally confirmed and I received the full picture.

While stories of the past influence the crimes of this novel, in other ways it’s very current. The teenage characters in particular come across as highly authentic, displaying the secretiveness and irresponsibility, but also vulnerability typical of adolescence. Drugs, eating disorders, self-harm, and bullying arise as themes.

While Crow Moon isn’t necessarily perfect – I stumbled over a few ‘that seems a bit too unlikely/convenient’ moments – these are forgiveable for a debut author who shows great potential, and I very much want to see where the series goes next!

Crow Moon is intriguing, suspenseful, and deliciously spooky.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK