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So beautifully written, the chills prowl with unexpected menace to climb inside your thoughts, to lurk and provoke. Richard and Juliette’s son Ewan died at the age of 5, Juliette, convinced that her son is still in the house turns to a group of occultists, while Richard searches for the remains of a hangman’s oak tree opposite their home Starve Acre. Andrew Michael Hurley doesn’t waste a single word, each forms a web to create a picture as he captures the essence of a thought or thing. As the story grows, as the oak planted itself in my minds eye, the unsettling force of grief came to settle over everything. I sank into this tale and couldn’t leave, reading from the deep, dark and incredibly soulful first page through to the startling last in one heady afternoon. Folklore gathers in the background, grief preys on the unsuspecting, and a compelling story unfolds. Highly recommended, I have chosen Starve Acre as one of my picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby's son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.
Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.
Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.
This sensuous and vivid gothic terror tale, set in a haunted house, is the best novel yet - Sunday Times
A spookier take on parental guilt came from Hurley's chiller Starve Acre, about a couple mourning the death of their nightmare-plagued five-year-old in the Yorkshire Dales - Daily Mail, Books of the Year
Hurley shows a wicked sense of control, masterminding a genuinely unsettling final act that runs to the very last sentence - TLS
One of the most interesting and eerie writers of contemporary horror - Independent
Hurley is a graceful, confident stylist and for this reason alone he is a joy to read - Guardian
Hurley shows himself a master of both murky menace and graphic prose - Sunday Times, Fiction Book of the Year pick
The best closing line of any novel we have read this year . . . A strange and unsettling read - The Times, Fiction Book of the Year pick
A perfectly pitched tale of suspense and the dark side of folklore - Press Association
One of the most interesting and eerie writers of contemporary horror - The Scotsman
Startlingly and daringly original, a story that shivers itself deeply into the consciousness - David Park, author of the 2018 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Travelling in a Strange Land
A nerve-shredding feat of compression - The i
An uncanny, unnerving work of rural Gothic . . . Starve Acre is a very fine novel, and quite a singular reading experience . . . the final third of Starve Acre is one of the most unnerving things I've ever read - Irish Independent
Andrew Michael Hurley has been carving out a niche for himself as a notable writer of modern gothic since the success of his Costa winning debut, The Loney, and his third novel, Starve Acre, offers an atmospheric tale in the same tradition of English folk-horror . . . Hurley has a fine talent for evoking the menace of his northern landscapes . . . an enjoyably chilling tale for a wild winter night - Observer
Hurley's striking prose evokes a rising sense of dread in this brief, unforgettable novella - Metro
Expertly paced . . . creepy and marvellous - Daily Mail
The new novel from the award winning author of The Loney is a further entry in a genre that Hurley is fast making his own . . . Hurley adeptly creates an unsettling atmosphere and keeps us guessing about the extent to which his characters are haunted by grief, by more primordial supernatural forces, or both. This chilling story will set spines tingling and teeth on edge: just the thing for Halloween - Daily Express
Brilliantly written . . . Evoking Ted Hughes's style of writing, Hurley is adept at seamlessly intertwining the malignant savagery of nature with abstract use of imagery for horror effect. He has this uncanny ability of bringing the palpable supernatural to life with a neat, serene turn of phrase. All these hallmarks of superlative writing are in full display in this impeccable work of folk horror. Starve Acre is a haunting portrait of what happens in the liminal space between grief and sanity - Irish Times
This kind of book, as with ghost stories from M.R. James to Susan Hill, demands a phenomenal control of language and atmosphere to work at all, and Hurley provides it in spades . . . This is a wonderful story of its type that has all the qualities of unease, nastiness, terror, psychological trauma and implied physical revulsion one expects from folk horror. But it's nothing to the denouement it foreshadows - The Spectator
A perfectly pitched tale of suspense and the dark side of folklore . . . perfect, page-turning reading for a dark night - Herald
Beautifully written and triumphantly creepy - Mail on Sunday
I will confidently predict that no reader will guess where it's heading, particularly in the novel's startling last sentence . . . Hurley's ability to create a world that's like ours in many ways and really not in many others is again on full display . . . Starve Acre, leaner and perhaps even more unsettling than its predecessors, may well be his best novel so far - The Times
A tour de force of physiological fantasia . . . Writing of this quality - sensuous, exact, observant - ensures that other scenes, too, pulse with vitality . . . Hurley's gothic storylines send spectres of deathliness through his fictional world. His prose brings it vividly alive -- Peter Kemp - Sunday Times
Publication date: 29/10/2020
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray Press
Publication date: 31/10/2019
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray Press
|Publication date:||29th October 2020|
|Author:||Andrew Michael Hurley|
|Publisher:||John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray Press|
|Genres:||Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Relationship Stories, Spine-Chilling Fiction, Star Books,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Horror & ghost stories,|
Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in Manchester and London, and is now based in Lancashire, where he teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. He has had two collections of short stories published by Lime Tree Press. The Loney is his first novel - it was first published in October 2014 by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher based in Yorkshire, as a 300-copy limited-edition. Author photo © Johnny BeanMore About Andrew Michael Hurley