Hello, people of the internet!
So, here’s a little background. At the beginning of this February, I uploaded a post talking about the books I wanted to read this month – you can read it here. And, round of applause please, I managed to stick to it! I read all four books this month like I planned! I was hoping to read more books (the ones I specifically were meant to be the main books I wanted to read) but I couldn’t read as much as I wanted.
Anyway, enough about me and my book-reading planning skills, here is the last book I read this month!
Title: The Loney
Author: Andrew Michael Hurley
Publication date: 07th April 2016
Publisher: John Murray
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. 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.
Even though this is classed as a horror book, I wasn’t terrified in any way. That is mainly due to me not being susceptible to horror books, not because of the book itself. Of course, that being said, it is a fantastic gothic story! The dark, dreary descriptions of the settings and its characters brilliantly adds to the atmosphere. Its strong theme of religion, faith and supernatural evil may not be for everyone, and I have heard that it has put people off, but it hasn’t bothered me at all. In fact, not only is religion a feature of gothic literature, but the theme of religion moves the plot forward and give depth and motivation to its characters.
Speaking of characters, they were written well, but there were times when I struggled to understand who was who. For example, when the main character and narrator return to the Loney with his mute brother, his parents, they are accompanied with the newly appointed Father Bernard and two couples. I was confused as to who the couples were, but as I read more, I eventually understood: one couple was a man (whose brother was the recently deceased Father Wilfred) and his wife and another couple was a woman, who helped Father Wilfred, and her fiancé. This may be a problem only I had, but I wanted to mention it anyway because it’s part of a problem I have this with book. And that problem is how The Loney doesn’t always explain everything.
Warning: spoiler alert!
There are sections when I completely understood what was happening and was gripped by the mystery of the plot. However, when I read the ending, I had to go onto the internet to find out what it was about. It turns out the mysterious, sinister men the main characters encounter are apparently Satanists and use rituals with a new born baby (who was mentioned in the book’s blurb) to cure illnesses, serious injuries and so on. I had a mixed reaction to this revelation: the book does hint at Satanism and witches, but there wasn’t any indication that these rituals had an effect – in that, these rituals did take place and people did believe they would cure illness and such, but it didn’t actually work. In fact, the feeling I got when reading this book was that it takes place in a real-life setting, where this sort of dark magic doesn’t actually work. I felt that this came out of nowhere. It even ruined the ending for me.
Furthermore I honestly don’t like the fact that I had to look it up to fully understand the book. I read the book within two days, didn’t rush it and I even reread the ending quite a few times, and I still don’t understand what happened from the book alone. If it had explained itself a bit better – not in exposition, but in its otherwise brilliant way like in the rest of the book – then I would have liked its ending. Have you had this problem? Or did you understand it? Please let me know!
What I liked most about this book is the relationship between the two brothers. I loved how they understood one another and how they cared for one another. For example, when Hanny, the mute brother, returns home after being away for a long time, he immediately gives the pictures he drew and painted to his brother in excitement. Along with the fact that Hanny never gave his parents any pictures, only to his brother, says a lot about their relationship.
The description of the Loney and its English northwest coast was also fantastic. I have been to the northwest coast numerous times and the way Andrew Michael Hurley writes it is very similar to how it looks in real life. I could easily picture it and I felt I was there.
Overall, I would give this book 3 stars out of 5. To me, it is a good gothic story. If I didn’t have a problem with its ending, then I would have discussed more about its theme of religion, keeping and losing faith and supernatural evil – which are themes the book explores well, but I can’t stop thinking about how confusing the ending was. If anyone were to come up to me and asked if I read The Loney, I would reply with, “Yeah, it’s okay…But that ending though…”
Thank you for reading!