Published by John Murray on March 12, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Literary, Family Life, General
Source: Purchased Book
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Winner of the Costa First Novel Award A Best Book of the Year, London Times and Daily Mail An Exceptional Novel, Sunday Times Best Book of the Year, British Book Industry Awards A Best Summer Book, Publishers Weekly
"The terrors of this novel feel timeless . . . There are abominations here, and miracles."--New York Times Book Review
"An amazing piece of fiction."--Stephen King
"Completely terrifying."--Paula Hawkins
"Vibrantly written." --Entertainment Weekly
"Stunning" --Jeff VanderMeer
When Smith was a boy, he and his family went on an Easter pilgrimage with their local parish to the Loney, a bleak stretch of the English coastline, to visit an ancient shrine, in search of healing for Smith's disabled brother. But the locals were none too pleased to welcome them, and the two brothers soon became entangled in a troubling morass of dangerous rituals. For years after, Smith carries the burden of what happened that spring. And when he hears that the body of a young child has been found during a storm at the Loney, he's forced to reckon with his darkest secrets, no matter the cost. "The masterpiece by which Hurley will enter the Guild of the Gothic" (Guardian), The Loney marks the arrival of a remarkable new talent.
"Fans of Shirley Jackson are sure to savor . . . Tight, suspenseful writing makes this masterful novel unsettling in the most compelling way."--Washington Post
The Loney was on my shelf for about four or five years and maybe subconsciously something was keeping me from reading it. Perhaps I should have listened to myself. It’s been shelved numerous times as horror, but I didn’t feel any elements of horror to the storyline apart from the atmospheric edge that The Loney held. Was the storyline slow, yes. Was I frustrated with the plot, also yes. Anyone that knows me well knows that struggle with religious storylines and had I known how heavily this story focusses on it I would probably have left well alone.
I think possibly my expectations were way too high going into this book. I had read about the high praise and awards it had won and I was expecting a gothic horror story and ended up with a tame puppy. I know this will seem like a controversial take because so many others have loved it, but I just couldn’t get on board with the author’s vision. I did enjoy his writing style and how his characters breathed life. I felt the characters were almost fanatical in their devout belief in God.
Now one aspect that did become an immediate turn-off for me was the storyline focussing on curing Hanny of his muteness. As a mother of a child who was non-verbal until the age of six, I find it offensive that the mum and dad couldn’t just accept that this is who Hanny was. Yes, he was non-verbal, but did that mean that they loved him any less? By the end of the story, I really couldn’t say with any clarity. It saddened me how much they wanted to cure him…this is the real crux, the religiously devout feel the need for their children to conform or be a certain way in the eyes of God.
I think I know where Hurley was trying to go with it but ultimately it didn’t really work for me. He wants the story to focus on why following blind faith is both insidious and incredibly damaging to communities and families. Unfortunately, nothing much happened and I struggled to finish the story, I did but only to see where things would be left.