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Penned by Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney (affiliate link) is definitely one of the most unconventional, and certainly original, horror reads I have come across in some time. The King of Horror himself, Stephen King to us mere mortals, hailed this work as “an amazing piece of fiction.” Needless to say, I was excited to sink my teeth into the 2016 novel to see if it would live up to my lofty expectations.
The story takes place in Hurley’s native Lancastshire province of England, on a coastline known for its unpredictable, violent tides and unforgiving weather. It is this tumultuous setting that serves as a backdrop, and a reflection, for the events of the story.
The young narrator, his family, and the local congregation visits the Loney for their Easter retreat. While it is certainly a strange choice for a retreat, it is the hope that the narrator’s brother, who suffers from muteness and other disabilities, will be cured at a nearby shrine that brings them to the desolate place.
The stay at the coast also forces the parishioners to try to adapt to their new priest, Father Bernard. After their previous priest, the ritualistic Father Wilfred, died only a short time before, the parishioners struggle to not only make sense of his death, but to adopt new views on faith. In turn, they must come to terms with their own spiritual struggles, and try to maintain their faith in adversity, both spiritual and physical.
What I Thought
I have mixed feelings about this story. While I am generally a sucker for Gothic horror, this one left me wanting something a little more, even though I did enjoy the book as a whole. I loved Hurley’s understated style, which left a great deal to the interpretation of the reader, making for a very personal read. However, this brave understatement also left gaps in expectation. Throughout the story, I felt myself preparing for some major event to take place, but none materialized.
However, this was one of the most original reads I have ever encountered. It defied genre, and I loved it for its loudness and uniqueness. Also, the imagery Hurley was able to conjure was without reproach. His descriptions left incredibly vivid pictures in my mind, without falling into the trap of being overly done.
Why You Should Read It
If you enjoy Gothic horror, or if you are looking for something different, I would certainly recommend this book. It’s a great read for a bleak, rainy day!
Click here (affiliate link) for a link to The Loney on Amazon, and let me know what you think about this story in the comments below.