My rating: 5 of 5 stars
University graduate, Nick Blaketon, takes a job at the University of York. It’s all part of his survival strategy to get over the traumatic death of his girlfriend, Alice. His parents see it as a positive move, but not everyone is as easily fooled. The very fact he has chosen York indicates that far from making a proactive step to move on with his life, he has very different plans.
In the same place but centuries earlier, retired Roman legionary Vibius Fulcinius, now Keeper of the Temple of Luna, metes out a gruesome punishment to an initiate who misjudges temple etiquette.
In modern York, Nick finds a silver plaque that holds a key to the secret he seeks, but he’s too naïve to recognise that its condition marks it either as stolen or as a deliberate counterfeit. He can’t explain to his co-workers where it came from. He barely understands it himself. When a colleague goes missing, Nick’s odd behaviour is under the microscope. The police ferret out the strange details of Alice’s death, and suddenly Nick is in very deep water, which has a certain irony, as it was a shrine to a water goddess that Alice was seeking when she died.
While Vibius fights to protect the sanctity of the Temple of Luna, Nick and his workmates brush shoulders with ancient rites of passage. Lines blur through the layers of history that make up modern York, where Roman temples built with stone plundered from ancient shrines are still out in plain sight to the 21st century eye. The annual Jorvik Festival plays backdrop to mounting tension as the plotlines weave towards their conclusion. It’s a fast-moving paranormal thriller that will raise the hairs at the back of your neck as it becomes clear that there is no going back for Nick. In taking his first tentative step on this journey, he slammed the door behind him. The only question is whether he can summon the strength to solve the puzzle in time to influence the outcome and prevent another tragedy.
Following Nick through modern York, and Vibius through Roman York gives a real sense of this historic town, with the weight of history bearing down from all sides.
The Bull at the Gate is the second of Linda Acaster’s occult suspense trilogy featuring Nick Blaketon.
View all my reviews