Andrew Michael Hurley
John Murray / Tartarus Press
"If it had another name,
I never knew, but the locals called it the Loney - that strange nowhere
between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time
with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the
It was impossible to truly know the place. It
changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal
the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious
currents. No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that
I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn't
stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how
hard I tried to forget...."
I first started reading this a few months back and got about 90 pages in before I realised that I just wasn't into it and shelved it. I've now had the impulse to finish it and whilst I enjoyed it and there's much to recommend in it's pages I'm not entirely sure I entirely understand what all the fuss was about.
The Loney is a place, a barren, unloved seaside parish where a small group of Catholics base themselves whilst visiting a local shrine in order to pray for the healing of an autistic child.
At the centre of the story is the younger child of a deeply religious mother, 'Mummer', and a pious but more grounded 'Farther' who is very much his brothers keeper; waking him, dressing him, entertaining him and generally being his protector.
The story trips back and forth through time telling an interwoven story set in current time and at two points in the early 1970s. The main narrative follows the groups final visit to the Loney and the inexplicable events that seemingly trigger a profound change in everyone's circumstances.
Hurley plays with much of the trappings of the gothic novel and can conjure a good turn of phrase when it comes to describing the bleak landscapes of a wet Easter in Lancashire. His characters are eccentric and the tale told is mysterious and macabre even at it's conclusion. I did however find the whole thing occasionally a little flat and a teeny bit frustrating. I can live without having my books all tied up with a little bow but I do like to have enough clues to speculate upon and here we're provided with some leaden Dennis Wheatley style satanic shenanigans, a touch of folk horror style effigy bothering and a mix of local yokel and gangster villainy that made for confusing bedfellows. In the end I found myself reading - and mostly enjoying - whilst wishing there had been just a little something more.
Buy it here - The Loney
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