29 December 2019


“I often thought there was too much time there. That the place was sick with it. Haunted by it. Time didn't leak away as it should. There was nowhere for it to go and no modernity to hurry it along. It collected as the black water did on the marshes and remained and stagnated in the same way.”                                                 ―  Andrew Michael Hurley "The Loney"

I picked up "The Loney" in a Sheffield charity shop a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't heard of it before and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Andrew Hurley's first published novel.

From the very first page, I could tell that it was going to be well-written. Words were embroidered into the fiction with purpose and artistry. Hurley is clearly a writer who loves words and will not carelessly throw them away. Each word counts.

Set in a neglected coastal area of north western England, you might say that "The Loney" has a gothic character. Like the swirling waters of the incoming tide, there are dark mysteries beneath the surface of the story. Some things are suggested but never fully explained but what we do know is that the narrator's brother, Hanny, is no longer a simple-minded mute. 

Hurley attends to the natural elements contained in his novel - the bracken, the sand, squabbling gulls, grey skies and the wind. They contribute to the gothic atmosphere in which unhappy human beings play out their roles.

I won't say much more about it for I don't wish to give the game away. However, what I will say is that "The Loney" made for a most enjoyable read. It belongs loosely to a genre that I would not normally enter but the gothic element does not overwhelm. It is subtly delivered. I end this blogpost with  another short extract:-

“We walked down onto the beach, following a ragged trail of debris. Seagulls had 
been strangled by the sea into sodden, twisted things of bones and feathers. Huge grey tree stumps, smoothed to a metallic finish, had been washed up like abandoned 
war-time ordnance. All along the beach, in fact, the sea had left its offerings 
like a cat trying to curry favour with its owner.”


  1. Sounds intriguing.

    1. Intriguing - that's the right word JayCee.

  2. I read this last year. Excellent book.
    Welcome home and hope you're feeling better. X

    1. Perhaps our tastes are similar Christina. I hope your Christmas banquet was a roaring success without the usual punch-ups.

    2. You're obviously feeling better. Back to being a cheeky bugger, I see!

    3. Surely you mean burgher ma'am.

  3. I think I may have read this a couple of years ago at the bookstore. I don't remember much of it, though. Was a priest or vicar involved early in the story?

    1. In fact there were two Catholic priests Jennifer. The novel has some religious undertones.

  4. I like to say that it's a wonderful thing when you start reading a book and realize right away that you are in good hands. That the author will take you exactly where he or she wants to take you.

    1. Sometimes one can be caught by the very first sentence.

  5. She does sound like a good writer. The last paragraph was excellent. I'll keep an eye out for it.

  6. Ragged debris. Strangled seagulls. Abandoned ordnance. Much too scary for me. I'd sooner walk across Morecambe Bay with the tide coming in.

    1. "Yah! Ye big girl's blouse!" (As our esteemed PM might have retorted)

  7. Is it Heysham nuclear power station? Colin Crompton once said the following about a certain seaside town: They don't bury there dead they put them in tram shelters.

  8. Replies
    1. The setting is part-fictional...but up there near Morecambe Bay somewhere...Furness is mentioned for example. The writer is deliberately vague about it.

  9. I read it a while ago and loved it

  10. I will keep an eye out for this; a well-written book can draw a person into the story no matter what the genre is, eh? Thanks for the review, YP.

  11. Nice to find a good story in a place like a charity store.

    1. You find some of the best books in charity shops.

  12. Interesting! I haven't heard of this book but I'll keep an eye out for it. I love finding books in charity shops.


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