I’m going to start out by telling you that this book majorly creeped me out. For 90% of the book there was nothing to be scared of out in the open, but a constant creeping sense of being watched, coupled with a sense of impending danger lent this book some serious gravitas. I read it in one sitting, not because I was very absorbed in the plot, but because I wanted to know where that odd watchfulness came from, and to seek reassurance that the characters felt it too.
The Loney follows two brothers, Smith and Hanny, as they and their Catholic family head off on their annual Easter retreat with the hopes of finding a “cure” for Hanny’s mute nature. In truth, this is another one of those books in which not a great deal happens for quite some time, and instead it is the atmosphere of the book that draws you in. At the very start of the book Smith and Hanny are grown, and grown apart, but quickly the reader is catapulted back to the 70s for the events of one particular Easter. The Loney itself is the mysterious setting for much of the book; a place of fierce tides and little life, it is the location of the Catholic retreat to which the family have been journeying for years.
I’m still not entirely sure what happened at the end, and I almost don’t want to know. The little that was revealed was plenty for me, and even writing this several days later I don’t quite want to think about the ending and its implications too closely.
There’s only so much I can write about Andrew Hurley’s novel without spoiling the plot, but if you are a fan of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and other gothic authors I urge you to give this a try. The heavy symbolism throughout and the constant oppressive air is reminsicent of classic gothic literature, and in my opinions, it’s up there with the best of them.