Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley – Review
By Sarah Morgan
What makes us want to read a book? Is it the title, the cover or, more than likely, its contents?
What initially intrigued me about Andrew Michael Hurley’s novels were their setting. When his first, hugely acclaimed book, The Loney, was published last year, he claimed its setting was inspired by Morecambe Bay, close to where he lived.
It’s an area I’m familiar with too, having visited my grandparents on many occasions when they were living in Morecambe itself.
Hurley has returned to Lancashire for his latest offering, Devil’s Day, but this time the setting is a small rural community close to the Yorkshire border.
At the centre of the tale is John Pentecost, a young teacher who has settled in Suffolk with his wife. She’s now pregnant and the pair of them travel back up north to attend the funeral of John’s grandfather, known as The Gaffer, an event that coincides with The Gathering, an annual task that involves moving the sheep off the nearby hills and closer to civilisation before the winter weather appears.
Although it sounds like a gentle tale, it’s anything but. After being lulled into a false sense of security, Hurley ratchets up the tension. We learn of strange events from the past with echoes in the future, of long-held traditions that none of the locals are willing to give up, and of the mysterious force lurking in the nearby woods…
“Less is more”
This may only be Hurley’s second novel, but he’s already a master of his craft, bewildering and chilling his readers at every turn.
His turn of phrase is simple yet compelling; although both The Loney and Devil’s Day are more literary in their approach than horror novels usually tend to be, he manages to engage without baffling readers with outlandish sentences and obscure metaphors.
If it is indeed a horror novel. Both books are hard to define, but certainly have lots in common with such 1970s movies as The Wicker Man and Blood on Satan’s Claw, which also had rural life at their core and beguiled their audience.
Hurley is clearly an author who believes that less is more, or at least that a reader should be allowed to use their imagination to create pictures in their mind, rather than having images shoved down their throats.
It’s an approach that should serve him well for years to come – and he certainly has a big future ahead of him.
I, for one, can’t wait to see what his next novel entails.
‘Devil’s Day’ by Andrew Michael Hurley is published by John Murray, £7.99 paperback