I cannot rave about this book enough. I am so glad I’ve read it now, at the beginning of my blogging journey, so that I can use it as the standard that I hold all the books I read to from now on! From the first page I was absolutely riveted and Hurley uses incredible language and skill to guide us through the complicated, captivating plot. The novel explores a range of different story-lines which weave together beautifully and are all connected through the affiliation with religion. Father Wilfred, Father Bernard, Mummer… They all have their own intriguing stories and these all come to a head at the Loney, their holiday destination. The main intention of the trip is to visit a holy shrine in the hope that it will cure the narrator’s brother, Hanny, who is a mute. Along this journey we encounter discussions of religion, faith, good, evil, and many other discourses. The religious aspects are frankly fascinating, almost cult-like. The novel flirts with the supernatural through subtle hints and occurrences, suspending the genre somewhere between horror and thriller.
Usually I like my books, films, everything to end wrapped up in a neat little bow, all questions answered and secrets revealed. This book was the completely opposite of that and I loved it. I would go so far as to say that The Loney raises more questions than it answers, but if you’re anything like me you shouldn’t let that put you off. It made me like the book even more and if there’s one thing I can guarantee it’s that you’ll be thinking about this book long after you finish it. The ending is moving and subtle, it took me a minute or two to figure it out but once I did I was struck by the raw emotion underlying the entire novel, an emotion that drives its conclusion.
It is at this point that we realise something: our narrator cannot be trusted and this, alongside the hints towards the supernatural, is the reason that the novel leaves us with questions. He reveals that he is writing his story both for his therapist and as a witness account in case the police come knocking at his door. On multiple occasions throughout the story he has admitted to lying to save his brother from getting into trouble… It all throws his credibility into disrepute. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel like this one before, where I have imagined the life, emotion, motivations of the protagonist so clearly, but it had a profound effect on the way I viewed the novel as a whole. It is a truly remarkable piece of work.
The one and only niggle that I picked up is in The Loney that this book is slightly wordy in places, with lots of purple prose – but I didn’t care. It was worth it for the stunning imagery that came as a result. In some cases this wordiness is almost certainly deliberate, with the long, winding sentences reflecting the traumatized mind-set of the narrator (See trauma theory & literature) and in others it creates the most beautiful images and landscapes in your mind’s eye.
Conclusively, I am really struggling to come up with any negatives on this novel. I have looked up a few other reviews and the main issue that seems to be flagged up in them is confusion over the ending. I admit it took me a few minutes of thinking to figure out the implications, but I enjoyed that and once I realised I was even more enthusiastic about the novel. The Loney is haunting and beautiful.
I’d love to discuss it with some of you lovely people and see if we came to the same conclusions! Let me know what you think in the comments.