Title: The Loney
Author: Andrew Michael Hurley
Original Publication: August 2015 (Hardback) / April 2016 (Paperback)
Publisher: John Murray
Opening Line: “It had certainly been a wild end to the autumn.”
Closing Line: “That we were running back across to the mainland, stumbling through the water channels in the fog, when a single gunshot echoed around the Loney, and was lost in the silence of the sands.”
Andrew Michael Hurley’s debut novel is an absolute triumph! I read it as part of Sefton Libraries’ virtual reading group and I’m really glad I took the time to read the novel. It was a chilling read, where you constantly felt that threat was lurking just over the page.
The novel slips effortlessly between the past and the present. This can be confusing at times but effectively builds up a cast of incredibly real characters. From the overbearing matriarch and brutal former priest to the put-on younger brother and the loveable elderly parishioners, Hurley is able to create authentic characters that are very easy to both love and hate.
There is a great deal of depth to the plot and characterisation of the novel, which Hurley is impressively able to convey without stating it explicitly. The novel relies on your own imagination and interpretation of what is written. Critics have noted the ‘unsettling’ and ‘frightening’ tone of the novel and I think that this is what causes that: how frightening you find the novel depends on how far your imagination allows it to be. Much is hinted at; much is threatened but we get very little description of what actually happens. At times this can be quite frustrating, as it feels like there is much more that needs to be explored.
The religious overtones of the novel are actually quite brutal in parts and make for some uncomfortable reading. Mummer’s ferociously militant faith jars quite significantly with the calming influences of other characters and we see Hurley representing numerous types and expressions of faith throughout the novel. Whilst the novel itself is not particularly religious, I feel that religion drives much of the plot.
All in all, the book is well worth a look. The story was engaging and the characters were very real. It was a beautifully written novel and was able to convey more by describing less: a skill that is in equal parts impressive and infuriating! It is a sinister read because of what it implies and the way that it lets your imagination run away with itself.
Some Questions To Think About After Reading The Book:
- How important was intuition in the novel?
- Which character did you sympathise the most with and why?
- What do you think the ‘cure’ was?
- Did the novel frighten or unsettle you in any way?
- What comments were made about faith over the course of the book?
P.S. The song I’ve chosen for this post is a track from Sara Bareilles’ second studio album. It’s called Not Alone – hope you enjoy 🙂
P.S.S. Apologies for the fairly lengthy delay in this post going up. It has been a busy few weeks but I hope that I am finally back on top of things and can get into a routine where I write & post much more regularly. (Here’s hoping anyway!) 🙂