Publisher: John Murray Press | Edition: Kindle (Review Copy via Netagalley) – Official publication date: 27th August 2015
The Loney is a journey of faith, hope and something otherly. It’s a spiritual discovery with an annual mini-pilgrimage to the north of England’s humble answer to ‘Lourdes’. Many hope that Hanny (Andrew) will find that a visit to this shrine will cure his disability. His mother is resolute it will happen, fuelled by the power of prayer.
Regardless of the ordeals and obstacles the fragile group of believers will face, his brother, who is the narrator for the duration of the story, is Hanny’s constant and understands him and his curious ways like no one else. Along the way, you will find startling moments to stop you in your tracks. For me, one of those was when the writer shows Hanny’s method of communication via certain trinkets and belongings (his gorilla mask being just one of them). The emotional impact of this is perfectly timed.
The group trundles by mini bus to The Moorings, an unwelcoming residence sitting in an harsh environment, but one where they can reflect on the miracle of what may be about to pass.
Well, the new Priest heading this faithful band is Father Bernard. He is a man desperately trying to fill the shoes of his holy predecessor, who was revered by all, especially Hanny’s mother. Father Bernard realises that the old priest is a tough act to follow, and despite his best efforts he is struggling to do anything right.
During their stay at The Moorings, Hanny and his brother make some startling discoveries when they encounter a young girl and what appears to be her family at the beach, an area known as The Loney. Her own predicament captures Hanny’s innocent heart whilst the brothers are playing, using nothing but their imagination, a disused concrete building as their base camp and with the dark water clawing at the shore…
This fleeting moment leads them to stumble into dangerous territory where something disturbing is waiting to greet them; the people residing in this neck of the woods seem to be hoarding a few secrets. But then again, so are some of the visiting pilgrims.
As the unsettling undercurrent flows we get to peek at the characters’ individual traits, which are built layer upon layer in this cleverly plotted story. Occasionally, their true natures are revealed when those layers are peeled away. This, coupled with a subtle hint of something sinister, leaves you wondering just how far their faith can protect them.
The Loney’s unnerving allure is most excellently concealed throughout the tale – I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the revelation when the moment finally arrived.
(Courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton website)
Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in Manchester and London, and is now based in Lancashire, where he teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. He has had two collections of short stories published by Lime Tree Press. The Loney is his first novel – it was first published in October 2014 by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher based in Yorkshire, as a 300-copy limited-edition.
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The Book Summary
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
‘Modern classics in this genre are rare, and instant ones even rarer; The Loney, however, looks as though it may be both’ Sunday Telegraph
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 . . .