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 skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents. No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that is.
I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn’t stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how hard I tried to forget…
**thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**
Now this is a widely acclaimed book, winner of the Costa Book Award, with film rights already bought and translations in the works. It seems a little perverse that I didn’t love it, but there we go.
First, the good stuff:
The author’s writing style is extraordinary, this is a very atmospheric novel and he is a master of creating a gothic atmosphere. It’s hard to believe that this is his debut novel!
The characters are incredibly well put together, Hurley manages to not only tell a story through what he says but manages to create a second story entirely out of the things that her doesn’t say.
Now the not so good stuff:
I didn’t like most of the characters, they were so well written and some so dislikeable that I found that it ruined my enjoyment of the book. Most of the adult characters in this book made my blood boil: religious fanaticism does that to me, I guess.
The story is told from the perspective of a nameless narrator, he recounts to us memories from his childhood where he spent an Easter with his religious parent, developmentally impaired brother and their church group at a shrine in a secluded part of Lancashire. Strange things happen while they’re out there due to a combination of their own behaviour and the ancient place they’re visiting. Religious fervour plays a key role in this book, making it even creepier in my opinion.
I like a bit of subtext in my books, so you can read between the lines but this book was too subtexty to me – leaving me with a frustrated ‘what the hell did I just read?’ feeling once I’d finished. I had a similar feeling after watching the first Paranormal Activity film, people were raging about how good it was and I was left wondering if I’d actually just seen the same film. ‘It’s about what you don’t see’ doesn’t cut it for me, I’m afraid.
So, the 3 stars for this book are based on my personal taste being the reason I didn’t enjoy the book rather than any issue with the writing.
If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!