The Loney

The Loney

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 parish priest.It was impossible to truly know the place. It changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal the skelet...

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Title:The Loney
Author:Andrew Michael Hurley
Rating:
ISBN:1473619823
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:368 pages

The Loney Reviews

  • Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
    Mar 13, 2015

    Astonishing literary fiction with a gothic dark undertone that had me alert from beginning to end. I read this in hours, unable to put it down and it's a powerfully written novel that doesn't need a fast pace or out of this world twists or in your face horror to get the story across to you. Mesmerising and disturbing.

    The Loney is a bleak place off the coast of Lancashire, England. A place steeped in history, religious belief and dark undercurrents. A pilgrimage is made back to this mournful plac

    Astonishing literary fiction with a gothic dark undertone that had me alert from beginning to end. I read this in hours, unable to put it down and it's a powerfully written novel that doesn't need a fast pace or out of this world twists or in your face horror to get the story across to you. Mesmerising and disturbing.

    The Loney is a bleak place off the coast of Lancashire, England. A place steeped in history, religious belief and dark undercurrents. A pilgrimage is made back to this mournful place by a group of church-goers and their new Parish Priest, what then unfolds is nothing short of imagination genius.

    Miracles. Bodies. Death. Superstition. Hidden Rooms. The Loney. Then there is the..something, the something. Oh my word. I'm truly lost for words where the ending took me. It took much reflection on the entire book, beautifully written.

    Don't expect a bloody gory horror but if it's an atmospheric, chilling, gothic flavoured read you enjoy you will love this as I did. I was quite literally enmeshed with the writing from the first word. Time just flew by. This win The Costa Award 2015 and for a new work of literary fiction I can see why. 5 stars from me and long-listed for my Top Ten Reads 2016.

    Let The Loney spill it's secrets...

  • Blair
    May 01, 2015

    Was ever a book more suited to a grey and drizzly Bank Holiday weekend? (Which it was, when I read it.) Steeped in religious symbolism and quintessentially British bleakness,

    is an odd, dreary sort of horror story - the tale of two boys, our nameless narrator and his mute brother, Andrew, known as Hanny. The Loney is a place - a desolate stretch of northern coast, and one of a number of deliberately evocative place names in this story, a

    Was ever a book more suited to a grey and drizzly Bank Holiday weekend? (Which it was, when I read it.) Steeped in religious symbolism and quintessentially British bleakness,

    is an odd, dreary sort of horror story - the tale of two boys, our nameless narrator and his mute brother, Andrew, known as Hanny. The Loney is a place - a desolate stretch of northern coast, and one of a number of deliberately evocative place names in this story, along with the village of Coldbarrow and the houses Thessaly and Moorings.

    The boys travel to the Loney as part of a sort of pilgrimage. They are led by a newly arrived priest, Father Bernard, appointed after the death of the previous incumbent, Father Wilfred. With them are the boys' parents, who they call 'Mummer and Farther'; Father Wilfred's brother and his wife, Mr and Mrs Belderboss; and the church housekeeper, Miss Bunce, and her fiancé, David. The religious aspect of the group's gathering is more than mere exposition: Mummer believes it is here that Hanny will be 'cured' of his mutism and learning difficulties, and it's the perceived power of faith and ritual - ultimately, the insufficiency of faith - that informs the plot's development and the real horror at the Loney's heart.

    Originally published independently - by

    - last year and now picked up by Hodder & Stoughton imprint John Murray (the new hardback is out in August),

    is gathering a buzz in the media and, inevitably, on Twitter.

    had this to say: 'Modern classics in this genre are rare, and instant ones even rarer;

    , however, looks as though it may be both.'

    isn't really a ghost story, but it has plenty of the genre's classic traits - such as the framing narrative, in which the narrator is looking back on this period of his youth, and occasionally mentions talking about the Loney with his therapist. There's a pinch of black magic and an inexplicable transformation, but much of the story concentrates on building atmosphere; constructing a nuanced portrait of the boys' really rather grim lives; realising the feverish, desperate sense of hope surrounding the group's presence at Moorings.

    The most disturbing details don't appear to have much to do with anything supernatural: what to make of the heavily pregnant girl the brothers meet - the narrator initially estimates her age as thirteen or fourteen, and later states 'she seemed even younger than I'd first thought' - who says airily of the impending birth, 'it's nothing. I've done this before. It gets easier the more you have' - and is never seen again? The Telegraph piece compares Hurley's work to that of Robert Aickman, and it's easy to see the resemblance in the sheer dread Hurley evokes here, as well as the depiction (indeed, personification) of nature as savage and cruel. Also Aickmanesque is the deeply ambiguous ending, concluding the story with either a stroke of genius or a frustrating cop-out, depending on your interpretation. (I have to say that personally, I was a

    disappointed.)

    It's apt that the central family has the surname Smith:

    is like a Morrissey song made novel ('Everyday is Like Sunday' with shades of 'Yes, I Am Blind' and maybe a bit of 'November Spawned a Monster') and, with a depiction of a poor Catholic childhood central to the story, I was reminded of the earlier parts of his autobiography more than once. The story is set in the 1970s, and it's perfectly redolent of a time not so long ago, but almost unthinkable now, before technology transformed the possibility of any place seeming entirely unknowable. Of course, the inability to 'call for help' is a mainstay of horror stories, and isn't limited to those set before everyone had a mobile phone - but here, it's used particularly effectively to help portray an era, a way of life, a system of belief in its death throes. The Loney is at once acutely bleak and strangely beautiful:

    I can certainly understand why

    might be labelled an instant classic. It's a seriously impressive first novel, and so successful at creating a setting that it's sure to linger in the memory.

  • Ruth
    Jul 14, 2015

    I struggled with this story. I was never quite sure where it was going, or why it was going there. I felt I should have been more on edge than I was, and more shocked than I actually felt. It was dark, but not disturbing enough to really shock me, and it tiptoed around the edges of what was actually happening so that I came away wondering what I'd actually just read about. Not really to my taste.

  • Michael Forester
    Jan 02, 2016

    This shining star of a book has been so thoroughly praised I feel like a heretic in raising my lonely voice in disagreement!

    Let me start, though, with what I enjoyed about The Loney. Firstly, Andrew Hurley's prose is lucid and visual, evocative of the scenes he is describing to the extent that I felt unusually present in the narrative. His characters are thoroughly well drawn - and that's no easy accomplishment in a multi-character novel like this. He also manages to engender, from the beginnin

    This shining star of a book has been so thoroughly praised I feel like a heretic in raising my lonely voice in disagreement!

    Let me start, though, with what I enjoyed about The Loney. Firstly, Andrew Hurley's prose is lucid and visual, evocative of the scenes he is describing to the extent that I felt unusually present in the narrative. His characters are thoroughly well drawn - and that's no easy accomplishment in a multi-character novel like this. He also manages to engender, from the beginning, an air of heart rate raising uneasiness. It's a little like going to a horror movie you know nothing about. You know something's going to happen, you're just not sure what!

    In my opinion it is these two elements that carry you along, in spite of, rather than because of the plot. By the time I was about half way through 'The Loney,' I was begging to lose patience with the fact that little had actually happened. Others will no doubt take the view that the first half of the book is necessary to the building of character. I kind of go along with this, particularly as the characters are entirely (and in some cases painfully) believable.

    However, I still get the impression that the book would have benefited from a rather more ruthless editor with a big red pen. There were too many plot threads that went undeveloped for my liking. What did the existence of rifle actually contribute? What was the benefit to the story of the narrator being able (outrageously) to listen in on the confessions of his parents and others? At 320 pages (and over 100,000 words) the book could have beneficially been tightened to nearer 250 pages (and therefore maybe 80-90,000 words).

    That said, the last 100 pages or so were a mostly well crafted joy. The plot pace increased significantly, the characters remained important to me, the scenes etched on my visual cortex. Unfortunately, though the denouement, when it came, seemed piecemeal, short on power and failed to answer too many of my remaining questions.

    I suspect this review will attract me my fair share of hate mail (well, maybe not literally) but my honest opinion is that this is still a novel in draft that would have benefited from a fair bit of further work. I don't in any sense begrudge Andrew Hurley his success with it and I'm surely open to the accusation that none of my books have yet won the Costa. However, I simply hope that when we see more from this clearly natural writer he and his editor will have taken more trouble to tie up the loose ends.

    I shall now take cover from incoming incendiaries

    :-)

  • Emma
    Jan 14, 2016

    Well deserved Costa First Novel Winner (2015)

    There's a lot that could have gone wrong in this book. Every gothic/horror motif you can think of forms part of the story, including: moors/crumbling old house/dark and dank weather/broken down vehicles/woods/voracious nature/priests/animal mutilation/witches/laughing rooks... etc etc. It is fuelled by myth and susperstition. The Loney is personified, a character itself, full of malevolent will. Death lives there; natural or unnatural, it has become u

    Well deserved Costa First Novel Winner (2015)

    There's a lot that could have gone wrong in this book. Every gothic/horror motif you can think of forms part of the story, including: moors/crumbling old house/dark and dank weather/broken down vehicles/woods/voracious nature/priests/animal mutilation/witches/laughing rooks... etc etc. It is fuelled by myth and susperstition. The Loney is personified, a character itself, full of malevolent will. Death lives there; natural or unnatural, it has become unremarkable.

    Yet is is precisely for this reason that Hurley is on everybody's one-to-watch list. Because he made these work. All together. At once. In the same story. No wonder Stephen King was impressed.

    His writing style is formidable, that this is a debut is ridiculous. His words move the story beyond the plot into a feeling, an atmosphere, an understanding that something is very wrong. It makes you feel anxious, uncertain; it haunts. It's not gory, because if it were, your imagination wouldn't be free to run wild. Instead, Hurley uses piercing description to lead you to the door, what you see through it is up to you...

    Many thanks to Andrew Hurley, John Murray Press, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Imi
    Jan 25, 2016

    This was a bit of an odd one. Maybe my expectations were too high after all the praise I've heard about it, but I didn't find myself connecting with this in the same way that others have. Too much was left unexplained, meaning by the half way mark I was beginning to lose my patience, and I really struggled to see where the story was going. The ending itself left me mystified. I didn't realise going into this that there would be so much on religion, as it follows a devoutly (I would say fanatical

    This was a bit of an odd one. Maybe my expectations were too high after all the praise I've heard about it, but I didn't find myself connecting with this in the same way that others have. Too much was left unexplained, meaning by the half way mark I was beginning to lose my patience, and I really struggled to see where the story was going. The ending itself left me mystified. I didn't realise going into this that there would be so much on religion, as it follows a devoutly (I would say fanatically) religious community. Perhaps this is way I struggled to relate to it much. It's also a hard book to describe; not quite creepy enough to be called horror, and lacking a satisfying enough plot to be a thriller or mystery. Saying that I really liked how the author wrote the characters, who were all well developed and realistic to the point that I took a real disliking to certain characters! That was really well done. The relationship between the two brothers and their way of communicating was also really touching. Ultimately, I'm not sure whether I'd recommend this or not. It didn't quite work for me personally, but that doesn't mean I think it's a bad book or one that others won't enjoy.

  • helen the bookowl
    Mar 28, 2016

    "The Loney" by Andrew Michael Hurley has been marketed as a gothic masterpiece, and it has been predicted to become a classic. Being a huge fan of gothic novels myself, I was naturally very interested to get my hands on it and read it. I now have and I'm pleased to say that this book creeped me out and fascinated me simultaneously.

    What comes to mind the most is the impeccable setting. Everything in this book is gloomy, gray and sinister, and I loved it. You felt like you were standing in front

    "The Loney" by Andrew Michael Hurley has been marketed as a gothic masterpiece, and it has been predicted to become a classic. Being a huge fan of gothic novels myself, I was naturally very interested to get my hands on it and read it. I now have and I'm pleased to say that this book creeped me out and fascinated me simultaneously.

    What comes to mind the most is the impeccable setting. Everything in this book is gloomy, gray and sinister, and I loved it. You felt like you were standing in front of this desolate landscape of Loney yourself, but at no point did it become too scary or too gloomy, in my opinion. Furthermore, I felt like this book was kind of a psychological thriller which also very much appealed to me.

    That being said, this novel also comes with a lot of religion, and while I didn't mind that, I didn't relate much to it either. Religion is a focal point to all characters in this story and it's an important part of what they say and do, but it is mingled with a mysterious atmosphere where you get a lot of foreshadowing but no real answers (until the very end).

    I loved this a lot, and I definitely see why so many people find it fascinating. Andrew Michael Hurley knows his craft when it comes to gothic literature, and I'm definitely recommending this to all gothic fans out there.

  • Paromjit
    May 31, 2016

    It begins with the discovery of a child's body. Smith is the narrator of The Loney. He is looking back on events from his childhood and they are presented with all the innocence of the time and non of the hindsight of the adult. Drenched in atmosphere and relentlessly bleak, the Loney is an isolated, ominous and foreboding part of the northern coast where the incessant rain never stops. The book draws on some of the best in gothic literature in its storytelling.

    Smith who looks after his mute an

    It begins with the discovery of a child's body. Smith is the narrator of The Loney. He is looking back on events from his childhood and they are presented with all the innocence of the time and non of the hindsight of the adult. Drenched in atmosphere and relentlessly bleak, the Loney is an isolated, ominous and foreboding part of the northern coast where the incessant rain never stops. The book draws on some of the best in gothic literature in its storytelling.

    Smith who looks after his mute and numerously learning disabled brother, Andrew, are part of a Catholic pilgrimage. They are accompanied by their parents, of whom Mummers looms particularly large, a newly appointed priest, Father Bernard, and others. Mummers is convinced that Andrew will be cured. The conviction in faith and ritual that underlies the tale and where it falls short is what drives the book. The group are staying at the Moorings, owned by a taxidermist, which has its own secrets.

    Mummers is less than happy with the new younger priest who is more accommodating in his faith. The previous zealous, ritual obsessed priest, Father Wilfred, is now mysteriously dead leaving behind questions. As the boys play, they come across a pregnant teenage girl who intrigues them. The locals are less than welcoming and Smith finds himself eavesdropping on conversations. An unsettling atmosphere of menace pervades throughout. I was particularly enamoured of the relationship between the two brothers.

    The author writes in beautiful lucid prose. He trusts the reader to pick up parts of the story and take it where they will, particularly the ending. Those who are uncomfortable with ambiguity might find this frustrating. Mummers aspirations for her boys are doomed for disappointment. However, I was not disappointed with the book, it beguiles and captures the reader in an unforgettable story that is of its time, the 1970s, and more specifically the place, the Loney. An absolute delight to read and savour. Cannot recommend it enough. Many thanks to John Murray Books for an ARC.

  • Amanda
    Jun 23, 2016

    This was a solid 4 star read for me until about the last 15% and then it just fell apart. Way too heavy on the religious zealotry for my likes and it felt like there was this big build up and then nothing but a fizzle.

  • Bill Kupersmith
    Nov 25, 2016

    When I finished The Loney I was thoroughly annoyed & felt that I’d wasted my time with a book that contrived to be a fast read that passed incredibly slowly. About three hours & a nap later what apparently had happened in the story jelled & I saw why one might compare it to The Wicker Man, as well as to some of the stories by Shirley Jackson and H. P. Lovecraft. From my current Christian perspective, this book is a story about two ways not to observe Easter: an extremely constricted

    When I finished The Loney I was thoroughly annoyed & felt that I’d wasted my time with a book that contrived to be a fast read that passed incredibly slowly. About three hours & a nap later what apparently had happened in the story jelled & I saw why one might compare it to The Wicker Man, as well as to some of the stories by Shirley Jackson and H. P. Lovecraft. From my current Christian perspective, this book is a story about two ways not to observe Easter: an extremely constricted & superstitious species of Roman Catholicism (which was already totally outdated in the 1970s when the principal action takes place) & an atavistic pagan survival which is cruel, messy & utterly ruthless. Guess which really works. With the Catholics you get simnel cake & a shrine of St. Anne with a magic well; the pagans make their most striking appearance as the Pace Eggers. I’d never heard of these before but found the Google images are priceless. The setting, in the neighbourhood of Morecambe Bay with its fierce and deadly tides, is wonderfully eerie too.

    But we have some big defects as well. It is a tedious read & there are more loose ends than Penelope’s loom after she’d undone her day’s efforts. Just how did an American WWII army rifle find its way to an old house on the English coast, complete with ammunition? How did Hanny manage to load it without instruction & without ending up with a very sore thumb? Not to mention tossing it about as if it were a baton - an M1 weighs 9.5 lbs & is rather awkwardly balanced. An Enfield would have been a better choice, lighter, better balanced, easier to load & much more likely to be found in England. We are never told why the narrator’s parents are called Mummer & Farther & I kept wondering whether these were pet names or dialect pronunciations. In a non-rhotic London dialect I expect the former would sound to a North American ear like “mummah” but how would the latter sound different from usual? Also how could there have been a 300 year old shrine to St. Anne in England after the Reformation? There’s also a Catholic church with a frightening Day of Doom picture on the wall that’s supposed to have survived from the Middle Ages. Not likely.

    So I give The Loney three stars, not because it’s middling, but because it runs the gamut from one to five back and forth so often the stars begin to twinkle. The Catholic characters are extremely depressing. It is hard to believe that Mummer is still under 40 & that Vatican II had occurred. She complains to Father Bernard - an Irish priest of somewhat liberal tendencies that he isn’t maintaining the standards of the sadistic & psychotic Father Wilfred. Once more I’m persuaded that the classic supernatural story does not work well at full length. (That may be one reason I’ve never become a fan of Stephen King & why I’ve bogged down on Sarah Rayne & F. G. Cottam.) At the length of The Lottery, Ancient Mysteries or Casting the Runes, pagan survivals work much better for me. But finding the Pace Eggers was worth the price of admission.