Friday, 30 September 2016

Review: The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley

Another stopping point in my ongoing horror bender was this nasty little novel.

Oh, no, I mean that as a compliment.

The Loney has everything that you want - bleak, dangerous landscapes, religious fanaticism, taxidermy animals, locked rooms, oppressive atmosphere, and a premise so disturbing and horrible it will creep inside your mind in the cold hours of the night. There is nothing comforting here, nothing nice.

Its a novel of very English horror, but not in the warm, stately-home, M.R James sense. It's more the grey meanness of respectability, the mud and hostility of the countryside, the threat of the sea in the off-season. There's a real grubbiness to it, the kind that gets under your fingernails, that coats your tongue. It is immediately familiar, and deeply unsettling: the priest who puts a bit too much vehemence into correcting his young charges, the big-shot from Town, who brings with him dirty banknotes and a young woman whose relationship to him is never defined. This novel has darkness layered upon darkness upon darkness. Not all of it is, or needs to be, explored in depth - the inference is enough to chill, to build and build to the real, terrible point of it all.

The Loney is upsetting, viscerally so. It is by no means the best novel that I've read this year, but as a work of horror, it has a impressive impact.

Not for the faint-hearted.

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