I found this book on a list of recent horror novels, and though it is definitely spooky, readers who like concrete explanations, and horrific reveals, as well as being led from plot point to plot point may not enjoy this one.
A modern Gothic tale, set in a remote part of England long the Irish Sea, the tale is by turns a coming of age tale, a tale of belief, faith, and the unknown things that fill the world.
Told in the first person, we take on the role of a young man, whose slightly older brother, Hanny, has been mute since birth, and is also, apparently, mentally-impaired. Each year, his family, along with others, travel to this remote part of the country, known as The Loney, which is as Gothic a place as has ever been imagined, to celebrate Easter and conduct a pilgrimage to a shrine, that Mummer believes, in her devout faith in the Christian god, will restore Hanny to some semblance of normality.
The book slides back and forth through time, as one specific visit to the Loney is recalled, and the events that occurred from it. The family, and others including their new parish priest travel to the Loney, and encounter strange happenings and peoples. None of which are suitably explained, though conclusions can be drawn by book’s end.
There is a heavy pall over this tale, it’s oppressive in its mystery, hints of which can be glimpsed through the fog that seems to be as much a part of the environment as those who inhabit it. It’s unnerving, and refuses to give up its secrets.
But deductions can be made, as our characters journey towards an impossible but inescapable conclusion that hints at the darkness and beauty of the world, and things that perhaps we aren’t supposed to understand.
It’s a very spooky read, and as things come to their end, things get to be very off-putting as faith, love, and brothers are tested by events, themselves, and perhaps something more?
This ended up being a lightning fast read for me, and completely wrapped me up to the point where I would read it far into the night as shadows closed around me and my tiny lamp. It’s a haunting tale that will stay with you, puzzle you, and fire the darker recesses of your imagination as you work to comprehend what happened to this family, their neighbours, their priest, their son, one Easter.
A great read, but don’t pick it up if you want complete answers, some things are best left in the shadows.