After reading The Loney, I feel like I’ve been sucked into the damp, dank sands of the barren Lancashire coastline and spat back out again.
Surprise indie hit of 2015, The Loney is a brilliant debut novel from Andrew Micheal Hurley, marketed as a horror story with a recommendation from Stephen King. But it’s so much more subtle than that implies (no disrespect Mr King).
Brothers Smith and Hanny are forced onto an annual Easter pilgrimage by their mother and new parish priest to a rural gothic house in order to visit the local ancient shrine to cure Hanny’s muteness. Hanny is cured, but we are never sure at what point amongst the Catholic ritual, the howling of dogs, the unfriendly locals, the rooks, the storms and pagan rites.
The descriptions of the landscape are evocative and poetic. But the real showstopper is the way Hurley imbues the book with religious symbolism and resonance. He brings the fervent fanaticism of Mummer (the mother) to life- her faith is almost aggressive, and scarily believable.
Overall, compelling, spooky, almost murky. Things are not as straightforward as they seem, both around you and inside you. This book all the better for that as we look for the truth on the treacherous shifting sands.
Read: when you want a delicious chill up your spine.