What Emma Read: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

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First Impressions Before Reading The Book

I bought this for my kindle so I could read it whilst I was on holiday, after browsing either the horror or the thriller category. It was advertised as a Costa book award winner, and “The British Book Awards Winner Book of the Year 2016”. Which is a tall statement to make, so I figured it must be pretty decent. The summary reads;

Two brothers. One mute, the other his lifelong protector.

Year after year, their family visits the same sacred shrine on a desolate strip of coastline known as the Loney, in desperate hope of a cure.

In the long hours of waiting, the boys are left alone. And they cannot resist the causeway revealed with every turn of the treacherous tide, the old house they glimpse at its end . . .

Many years on, Hanny is a grown man no longer in need of his brother’s care.

But then the child’s body is found.

And the Loney always gives up its secrets, in the end.

I thought this sounded quite interesting, so I gave it a go, not really knowing what to expect because I didn’t read any reviews on it before I started it.

The Plot

The entire plot is based around a group of people who visit a place known as The Loney, a remote and unforgiving place, for Easter as they used to visit every year with their old Priest. However the mother has a slight ‘ulterior’ motive for the visit, as she hopes that if they go back there, that God will cure Hanny’s muteness. The group go to The Loney, to be faced with strange characters and vague warnings from the locals about them being in danger, which is illustrated to them by the finding of a fake jesus with a pig’s heart saturated with nails being found in the woods outside their home. While this is going on, the narrator and his brother Hanny come upon what looks like a family, with a pregnant daughter. Hanny becomes infatuated with the daughter, Else, and hounds the narrator to go back and visit. These visits cumulate in a confusing manner, by which the characters find out what’s really going on at The Loney, which completely changes their lives.

The Characters

There’s a band of people from the Church, one full family, which the main character is part of, two couples and the Father that make up the majority of the characters in the novel, although there are a few other important characters. I didn’t really feel that drawn to any of them, because I don’t relate to religion, and they were all very heavily religious. Especially the mother, who was religious to the point of fanaticism, which made me uncomfortable. The narrator isn’t really named, just known occasionally as Smith, which made me feel a bit detached from the story, since I didn’t even know his real name. Hanny is mute, and seems to me to be autistic, but this is never addressed in the book despite the fact it’s a major point to the story. Other significant characters include Parkinson and Collier, and Leonard who appears to be Else’s father. I can’t say too much about them because it would lead to spoilers, but it’s not really explained where they come from or what they do. It could be assumed that they live there, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case. I found that the Priest was the character that made the most sense and was the most relatable, I don’t really know that much about Priests but to me he didn’t act like I assumed a Priest would. Like I said, maybe it’s just the religion taking over the characters’ true personalities, but I just didn’t take to any of them.

Would I Recommend It?

*Sigh*, like I said in the last review I did, I really don’t like criticising books, because I feel like it’s harsh to the authors who spend so much time on that piece of writing. But the off-putting factor of this book for me was the fact that it was so heavily based on religion. I had no idea that this would have been the case, otherwise I wouldn’t have even read it. I’m not a religious person, I never have been, and I’ve never been involved in anything remotely religious except what I was made to do at school for occasions like Easter and Christmas. Because of this, I don’t think i’m best placed to accurately judge The Loney. If religion is something that you’re involved in, even slightly, you might have a better time of this than I did, because I didn’t truly understand the significance of half of what they did. I thought the book was more religion and less thriller, whereas I was there for the thriller/horror aspect.  I did have a lot of questions when it ended though, with my biggest bug-bear being that you never truly know what happens at the end of the book, there’s subtle hints throughout, but what the group are involved in is never explicitly said, and I felt left to make my own decision, which could be completely wrong. I won’t give it away here because that might be a bit spoiler-ish, but I was disappointed to not be told. I also found that a lot of the scenarios in the book were pretty irrelevant, or their significance was never properly explained. The original Priest dies (pretty early on in the book, it’s not really a spoiler at all) in mysterious circumstances, after what is revealed to be an almost descent into madness. I didn’t think that added anything particularly significant to the story, and took a lot of time to explain when more explaining could have been done elsewhere, and they could have just had him die of natural causes and it wouldn’t have made any difference to the story.

I read it without too many complaints, but it’s not really a book that I would be rushing to tell all my friends to read. But as I said, if you’re more into religion you’d probably enjoy this far more than me, and if this is the case i’d love to hear your input! Just because I didn’t love the religious aspect doesn’t mean it wasn’t well written.

I’m taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016, if you’d like to see what else i’ve been reading you can find me here. I’m always interested in other people’s opinions on the books I read, and if there’s any you think I’d enjoy, please let me know!

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