What’s it all about?
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.
I was falling over myself trying to get an ARC of Starve Acre, having loved The Loney so much that it makes my top ten every time I’m asked! I was beyond excited when I was accepted by the publisher. Thank you so much Netgalley and John Murray Press.
Starting with the sudden death of their five-year-old son, Ewan, Richard and Juliette are trying to cope with the aftermath. Juliette is unwilling to let go, and we soon suspect that there is more to this than mere grief. Her authoritarian sister, Harriet, arrives to try to prise Juliette from the house and back to her parents, but realises there is no chance until the Beacons, a seeming innocuous group of occultists have visited to impart some other-worldly knowledge upon the bereaved parents. Great characters, deliciously chilling folklore, adept capture of the divisive nature of grief, and perfect setting.
Dripping with menace, it plays on our darkest fears and intensifies the superstitious mindset of some British countryside folk. It’s gorgeous.
The story reminded me of Henry James and the best of MR James, and one Stephen King novel in particular *feels hair on arms rise. It’s brief; I read it in one sitting. It feels like I’ve been given a flash of something awful in the torchlight and now all I can do is think about it and let my imagination do the rest. This is also a BBC Radio 4 Book At Bedtime. Sleep well listeners….
Having experienced the worst nightmare of my adult life halfway through reading The Loney, I am pleased to confirm that Starve Acre is another masterpiece of modern folk horror. My only regret is that I read this on a sun lounger in Morocco and not cosied up in a chair, with a suitable autumn storm blowing wildly outside. I’m going to read it again in the dark when the weather turns. Stunning, Andrew Michael Hurley. I can still feel this one in my bones.
To snare yourself a copy: Wordery
About the author:
Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in Manchester and London, and is now based in Lancashire. The Loney, his debut novel – was first published in October 2014 by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher based in Yorkshire, as a 300-copy limited-edition. It won the Costa First Novel Award 2015 and went on to be named Debut of the Year and Overall Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards in May 2016.