Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

Strange things are afoot in Andrew Michael Hurley’s Gothic tale, The Loney. Not overly creepy at first, the story begins with the discovery of a body following a landslide in a grim part of northern England, atmospherically called Coldbarrow. The narrator decides to tell his view of events that happened forty years before.

As a boy of fifteen, the narrator – we never learn his name – spends Easter with his parents, his brother Andrew, their priest and several parishioners at an old house called Moorings. It is a kind of pilgrimage - the boys’ mother is intent that Andrew, who is slow and never speaks, will be cured when they visit a nearby shrine. We already know from the first chapter that Andrew has been given that second chance, but what is the real nature of the miracle that cures him?

Hurley is a brilliant story teller, slowly building up tension with revelation after revelation. We learn about the sudden death of the previous priest, Father Wilfred, shot through with accounts of his strict religious fervour. There is light relief in the power play between the female characters: newly engaged Miss Bunce and Esther, the boys’ devout mother. There are quaint and sinister locals and weird noises in the night. Moorings is filled with secrets and peculiar taxidermy.

In the distance the wild coast beckons the boys to explore the perilous spit at Coldbarrow, so quickly cut off from the tide. Danger lurks in many quarters, but when it takes hold of people’s imaginations the story takes a darker turn. Amid all this, Hurley probes the workings of faith with perception and humanity. The Loney is one of those books that gives you a lot to think about, but is a ripping read as well, earning for its author a Costa First Novel Award.

While The Loney is not available at this library, you can order it as a City Loan - just another of the many services available at Hastings District Libraries.

More about Andrew Michael Hurley

More about City Loans

No comments:

Post a Comment