cover image Starve Acre

Starve Acre

Andrew Michael Hurley. Penguin, $17 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-313778-8

In this meditative, dread-filled novel from Hurley (The Loney), the lives of bereaved parents Juliette and Richard Willoughby become increasingly bizarre as they attempt to process the death of their five-year-old son, Ewan. On their remote estate, Starve Acre, on the British moors, Richard takes to digging endlessly in the fields for animal bones and mysterious tree roots, while Juliette consults a group of local mystics called the Beacons. After the Beacons perform a spiritual ritual (which they insist is “not a fucking séance”) at Starve Acre, questions surrounding the last days of Ewan’s life arise and mix with the specter of a local folkloric boogeyman—an eldritch presence buried beneath the soil of Starve Acre itself—making it ever more difficult for Juliette and Richard to hold onto the truth. Hurley has a slow and steady hand in establishing a gloomy, nearly gothic atmosphere, allowing his characters’ grief room to breathe even as he tightens the noose in ways readers won’t see coming until the chilling and memorable conclusion. This is folk horror that knows how to take its time. Fans of T. Kingfisher and Francine Toon will find a lot to love. (July)