A friend recently asked me for some personal recommendations after she finished reading Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney. This got me thinking about starting a series of recommendation pages as part of an effort to bring new content to this website (asides from reviews). If you’ve just finished reading a new release (or possibly an old classic), and you’re looking to read something similar, let me know here and I’ll try to find some titles to recommend for you. Let’s start with The Loney.
The Loney – Andrew Michael Hurley
Release Date: 07/04/2016 (Paperback UK)
Publisher: John Murray General Publishing Division
Pages: 368pp RRP: £7.99 (Paperback)
Ebook version available here (£4.99)
Following the devoutly religious family of brothers Hanny and Tonto as they go on an annual pilgrimage to a remote shrine in an effort to cure Hanny’s mutism, The Loney is a strong example of effective Gothic horror. It manages to balance the supernatural with the simply strange, and shows that Hurley has an ear for the absurd when it comes to conversation. Whilst it does suffer from some minor issues of pacing and focus, Hurley’s debut leaves you wanting to see what else he can conjure forth.
In terms of similar books to recommend, two in particular spring to mind.
The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
Release Date: 27/05/2016
Publisher (UK): Serpent’s Tail
Pages: 432pp RRP: £14.99 (Hardback)
Kindle version available here (£6.99)
Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent shares many of the elements that make The Loney great: a remote location given its own rich character; an excellent understanding of the clichés of Gothic literature; an effective utilisation of the mechanics of the genre; and an eccentric cast of characters whose relationships are used to explore greater concepts. This is surely going to be an award winner this year, and is proof that Perry is a great authority on Gothic literature (coincidentally she actually wrote a great review of The Loney for the Guardian last year). It’s one of my favourite books of the year thus far, and you can read my full review of it here.
The Good Son – Paul McVeigh
Release Date: 15/04/2015
Publisher (UK): Salt Publishing
Pages: 256pp RRP: £8.99 (Paperback)
A coming of age tale set during The Troubles, The Good Son manages to evoke similar feelings of dread, paranoia, with an additional focus on the impacts of sectarian and domestic violence from the perspective of a young boy. McVeigh’s protagonist Mickey Donnelly desperately wants to escape his turmoil-filled life in Belfast’s Ardoyne neighbourhood, but discovers that the cost of the local grammar school is too much for his family. The alternative is a school where Mickey will be torn apart, leaving him counting down the remaining days of the Summer holidays, and planning to take control of his future. With the ongoing conflict between the IRA and the British military playing out, as well as the violent clashes within Mickey’s own family, Paul McVeigh gives readers an emotionally raw look into an area that many would have avoided.