Hurley’s impressive debut novel makes for an excellent Halloween read. The Loney is a Catholic pilgrimage site where the narrator’s brother is cured during their holiday at there. The narrator’s tale is interwoven with a vast amount of small details that leave you guessing how these details intertwine. The mixed timeframe is also executed well with various memories interspersed throughout the tale. They provide a welcome break that provides interesting background information without being so long it becomes boring. In this sense, it is a rare well-planned book; most of the small details were used to good effect (think Chekhov’s gun: everything must have relevance to the story) although some questions do remain.
Whilst The Loney doesn’t leave you scared witless it does keep you mostly in suspense with a good pace balancing out the religious dimension and the actual plot. I also appreciated how Hurley dealt respectfully with Catholicism; it was not a cheap caricature and asked some subtle yet important questions over faith. My only qualms are that I guessed what would happen to Hanny half way through and I would have preferred scenery that is more haunting. Overall, it was very 'readable' and different to most books published this year. If you get the chance you should give it a go.
Original publication: August 27th 2015
Publisher: John Murray