Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

review by Maryom

In the north-west of England lies an empty, flat stretch of coastline known as the Loney; a place where few people live, sand shifts with the tides sweeping across the bay, and the unwary are caught out by rapidly rising water. When storms cause a landslide on the tidal island of Coldbarrow, and the body of a baby is discovered, the narrator is drawn back into events which unfolded thirty years ago. He and his family were part of a church group visiting a shrine in this remote area, in the hope that his brother, Hanny, born with speech and learning difficulties, would be miraculously cured, but boys left to find their own amusement tend to gravitate towards trouble, and things didn't go quite according to plan ...
The Loney was one of the options offered as a read for my book club, and, having heard so much praise for it, I was eager to read it.

Hurley creates the setting brilliantly - the desolate coast, mud flats quickly covered by incoming tides, inhospitable locals, strange objects and hidden rooms found in the holiday house. It all adds up to a tense, eerie atmosphere. I could feel the wind whipping in from the sea, the sands shifting beneath my feet, and imagine the causeway leading out across the flat expanse of mud, but as the story progressed I felt the creation of atmosphere wasn't enough.
It's clear that events are moving towards a big reveal, but somehow it didn't deliver for me,and this is what . A lot of the set up - people revisiting a place after several years absence, strange behaviour of the locals who appear to be part of a pagan cult, remote setting -  all these things feel familiar even if only from films such as The Wicker Man or Hot Fuzz, so there's ample warning of what might happen as events unfold. Even when the crucial event, on which the whole plot revolves, is revealed, I thought, yep, seen that on Babylon 5 (though it's a fairly common sci-fi/fantasy trope which you might have encountered somewhere else).
Although I felt the ending just a little too predictable, the writing makes this book worth a read, and I actually wonder if my rating of it might improve another time - after all, for the second, third, subsequent readings I would know how events unfold, and not be expecting a big surprise.

Maryom's review - 3.5 stars
Genre - Adult Fiction, horror

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