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The Loney Paperback – 11 Apr 2017
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Winner of the Costa First Novel Award
A Sunday Times Exceptional Novel of 2015
A Best Book of 2015 by the Times and the Daily Mail
"It's not just good, it's great. An amazing piece of fiction." --Stephen King
"THE LONEY by Britain's Andrew Michael Hurley likewise deals with the impact of damaged children on family life. During Easter Week, a deeply Catholic family travels to a distant shrine on the English coast, hoping to find a miracle cure for their mute older son. Miracles, they discover, do exist, but always at a cost. It's hard to believe that this mysterious, richly atmospheric book is a first novel."--Washington Post, "Horror novels are having a renaissance. Here's what to read."
"A palpable pall of menace hangs over British author Hurley's thrilling first novel, narrated by a London boy, "Tonto" Smith, whose affectionate nickname was bestowed by a parish priest who likened himself to the Lone Ranger. Tonto and his family undertake an Easter pilgrimage to the Moorings, a house overlooking a treacherous swath of tide-swept Cumbrian coast known as the Loney. Smith's devoutly Catholic mother hopes that taking the waters at the nearby shrine will cure his older brother, Hanny, of his lifelong muteness. But the Cumbrian landscape seems anything but godly: nature frequently manifests in its rawest state and the secretive locals seem beholden to primitive rites and traditions that mock the religious piety of the visitors. Adding to the mystery is Coldbarrow, a spit of land turned twice daily by the tides into an island, where a man, a woman, and a pregnant teenage girl have taken refuge in a gloomy house named Thessaly. Hurley (Cages and Other Stories) tantalizes the reader by keeping explanations for what is happening just out of reach, and depicting a natural world beyond understanding. His sensitive portrayal of Tonto and Hanny's relationship and his insights into religious belief and faith give this eerie tale depth and gravity." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"When a landslide during a winter storm reveals the body of an infant, the desolate Lancashire coastline known as the Loney is in the news, and the narrator called Smith realizes he must tell the story of his past there. Thirty years earlier Smith's family and other church members undertook an Easter pilgrimage to an old shrine in order to "heal" his mute brother Hanny and reconvene with God. However, the adventure was one of clashing attitudes, strange locals, loud noises in the night, hidden locked rooms, and miracles that may not have been God's will at all. First-time novelist Hurley weaves an intricate story of dark mystery and unwavering brotherly love that lends itself to many rereads. The characterizations are superb; even the Loney becomes a distinct character as it seems the place, not the people, is to blame for the bizarre happenings. Also, while religion plays a major role, the reference is more an observation of traditions. VERDICT: This eerily atmospheric and engrossing novel will captivate readers who like their fiction with a touch of the gothic." --Library Journal, editor's pick
"The Loney is one of the best novels I've read in years. From the very first page, I knew I was in the hands of a master. Atmospheric, psychologically astute, and saturated with the kind of electrifying wrongness that makes for pleasurably sleepless nights." --Kelly Link, author ofGet in Trouble
"The Loney is a stunning novel--about faith, the uncanny, strange rituals, and the oddity of human experience. Beautifully written, it's immensely entertaining, but also deep and wide. A moving evocation of desolate wilderness and a marvel of complex characterization, The Loney is one of my favorite reads of the past couple of years." --Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times best-selling author of the Southern Reach trilogy
"Here is the masterpiece by which Hurley must enter the Guild of the Gothic: it pleases me to think of his name written on some parchment scroll, alongside those of Walpole, Du Maurier, Maturin and Jackson." --Guardian
"Astonishing . . . Beautifully literary and absolutely horrific." --Times Literary Supplement
"A masterful excursion into terror." --Sunday Times
"Modern classics in this genre are rare, and instant ones even rarer; The Loney, however, looks as though it may be both." --Sunday Telegraph
"Enigmatic and distinctly unsettling . . . The Loney's power lies in all that Hurley dares to leave out. This is a novel of the unsaid, the implied, the barely grasped or understood, crammed with dark holes and blurry spaces that your imagination feels compelled to fill. It takes both confidence and talent to write like this and it leaves you wanting more of whatever slice of darkness Hurley might choose to dish up next." --Julie Meyerson, Observer
"An extraordinarily haunted and haunting novel, arrestingly in command of its unique spot in the landscape." --Telegraph
"A tale of suspense that sucks you in and pulls you under. As yarns go, it rips." --New Statesman
"Bone-chilling, poetic writing." --Times
"Nuanced, deliberate and building insensibly from a murmur to a shriek. The Loney is an unforgettable addition to the ranks of the best British horror."--Metro, five-star review
"An eerie, disturbing read that doesn't let up until its surprise ending." --Daily Mail
About the Author
ANDREW MICHAEL HURLEY lives in Lancashire, England, where he teaches English literature and creative writing. He has published two short story collections. The Loney won the 2015 Costa First Novel Award and will be published in sixteen territories.
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Let's start with the good stuff: the atmosphere! It was definitely there and I loved reading the descriptions of The Loney and it's nearby village and shrine. Compared to the hustle and bustle of London that is described at certain points, it felt like a wild, desolate, lonely place ruled only by nature and unseen forces that will not be tamed by men or women, no matter how hard they try. Hurley's writing can in no way be faulted: it's beautiful. With such a strong prose, it's easy to see WHY the book has received so much praise. There were hints to the supernatural and a strong look at religion and how it can affect human behaviour, which I loved! I have to say, I was a pretty big fan of the character work too. Aside from the narrator who had very little personality (acting as more of an observer than anything) they were all distinctive and unique individuals and their relationships with each other were well explored.
Sadly, there were things about this book that mean it stayed at 'good' and stopped it from being 'great' for me. Firstly, there was no REAL plot. There was an element of mystery to it, that's for sure, but I didn't really feel like it started from or finished at anything substantial. This was partly because I was expecting to be spooked, even to find myself a ghost amongst the pages. If that's what you think you'll get with this book, you will be disappointed. The ending left me with more questions than answers too I'm afraid. Hurley clearly puts a lot of stock in the power of suggestion and the human imagination, but I would have liked things a little more clear cut and I didn't fully understand much of what happened in those final chapters. My final niggle was not a big one, but I have to say I felt like I was reading a story much older than it actually was; late 1800s to early 1900s maybe, at a stretch around the second World War. Imagine my shock when I found out the book was set in the 1970s! It's all very well throwing televisions and a bit of modern technology into the mix, but I like a SENSE of time period in the writing too. It felt dated.
Towards the end of the book there's a bit too much soul-searching by one of the characters, which doesn't advance the story in any way and also still didn't explain what was quite a big issue in the story.
Still worth a read though, and others may just get it, whereas I didn't!