The Loney

Andrew Michael Hurley. Tartarus (www.tartaruspress.com), $65 (288p) ISBN 978-1-905784-69-1
A palpable pall of menace hangs over British author Hurley's thrilling first novel, narrated by a London boy, "Tonto" Smith, whose affectionate nickname was bestowed by a parish priest who likened himself to the Lone Ranger. Tonto and his family undertake an Easter pilgrimage to the Moorings, a house overlooking a treacherous swath of tide-swept Cumbrian coast known as the Loney. Smith's devoutly Catholic mother hopes that taking the waters at the nearby shrine will cure his older brother, Hanny, of his lifelong muteness. But the Cumbrian landscape seems anything but godly: nature frequently manifests in its rawest state and the secretive locals seem beholden to primitive rites and traditions that mock the religious piety of the visitors. Adding to the mystery is Coldbarrow, a spit of land turned twice daily by the tides into an island, where a man, a woman, and a pregnant teenage girl have taken refuge in a gloomy house named Thessaly. Hurley (Cages and Other Stories) tantalizes the reader by keeping explanations for what is happening just out of reach, and depicting a natural world beyond understanding. His sensitive portrayal of Tonto and Hanny's relationship and his insights into religious belief and faith give this eerie tale depth and gravity. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/05/2015
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