27 November 2019, The Tablet

Field of fear


 

Starve Acre
ANDREW MICHAEL HURLEY
John Murray, 256 PP, £12.99)
Tablet bookshop price £11.70 • Tel 020 7799 4064

Andrew Michael Hurley specialises in tales of the rural macabre, laced with folklore and set in the grimly beautiful Pennines. Though he writes with keen attention about the natural world, his lonely moors are, at best, indifferent to human concerns, at worst actively menacing. His third novel is briefer than his award-winning debut, The Loney and its follow-up, Devil’s Day, but it exerts a cumulative, page-turning power.

Academic Richard Willoughby has come to live at his parents’ old home, hoping for a new life with his wife, Juliette, even though the ill-omened Starve Acre seems to have driven his late father mad. They are mourning the recent death of their five-year-old son, Ewan, whose things are everywhere.

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