Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Time didn't leak away as it should

A sudden mist, a mumble of thunder over the sea, the wind scurrying along the beach with its crop of old bones and litter, was sometimes all it took to make you feel as though something was about to happen. Though quite what, I didn't know.

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.
The Loney, by Andrew Michael Hurley, was a real treat.

The Loney is creepy, in layered way. There's the suspicious religious community that's making a pilgrimage to this corner of England — something seems off about their dynamic, maybe they're too religious, and they definitely appear to be harbouring some secrets from the new priest. There's something the boy's not telling us about the old priest either.

Then there's the creepiness of Catholicism itself: the somber rites of Holy Week, every action steeped in prayer and tragedy. (Having grown up Catholic, this element holds a great deal of interest for me in trying to gauge what is a normal level of religiosity.)

The setting is utterly windswept and gothic, a bleak house by the sea. And the tower across the way, where hanged the witch who lived there. Secret rooms. An underground shrine. Pagan charms and strange goings on in the woods at night.
The Church of the Sacred Heart was an ancient place — dark and squat and glistening amphibiously in the rain.
The locals are mostly unwelcoming, thoroughly unpleasant.
Like most drunks, Billy bypassed the small talk and slapped his bleeding, broken heart into my palm like a lump of raw beef.
Creepy also is the disconnect between now and then. The Loney is a coming-of-age story in a way — of two teenage brothers growing up in the 1970s. Back then, Hanny was mute, and everyone prayed for a miracle. The story is told by the other brother. Something happened that drastically changed how they are today.

I don't recall how I came to learn of this book, but I'm glad I did. A perfect read for a damp blustery day.

The Guardian: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley review — horror days by the sea:
This is a novel of the unsaid, the implied, the barely grasped or understood, crammed with dark holes and blurry spaces that your imagination feels compelled to fill.
The Telegraph: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, review: 'haunted and haunting':
The Loney is certainly a book about bloody rituals and ancient survivals, but it pays considerably more attention to the mechanisms of Christian faith, and to the strange arcana of esoteric Catholicism, than it does to the half-glimpsed paganism of this timeless corner of England.

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