Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley John Murray Ltd October 19th 2017
John Pentacost is returning, as he does every autumn, to his families Lancashire farm where he will gather the sheep in from the moors and take part in the traditional rituals which will keep the sheep safe from the devil.
This year is different. He will be accompanied for the first time with his pregnant wife Katherine and they will bury his Grandfather, the Gaffer. The future of the farm is uncertain and John hopes that Katherine will feel as he does, that it is their duty to stay to help his father, and secure the farm for their children. What John does not expect is the resurfacing of old feuds, secrets and superstitions.
Hurley’s debut novel, The Loney, was huge and won the Costa First Novel Award so expectations are understandably high for The Devil’s Day.
Hurley is excellent at dealing with the numerous characters and I particularly liked that it was told from John’s perspective, as he looks back to his own childhood. John remembers his mothers death, the persistent bullying he received from another local family, the Sturzakers, until finally he reveals his own secret, long buried at the back of his mind.
The community view outsiders with suspicion and John’s wife Kat is no different. Their reluctance to accept her and her lack of understanding of the old ways push Kat to the edge, as she urges John to take her home. Will she stay or return to her cosy home is the question you ask yourself throughout the novel.
What captivated me from the start was the wonderful imagery. The bleak, remoteness of the moors, the swirling mists and driving snow leapt from the page, creating a deeply eerie and chilling feel to the novel. The graphic descriptions of animal killings may not be to everyone’s taste but are suitably fitting to the story.
I particularly enjoyed his description of the rituals, which were both chilling and deeply disturbing, and did not make for comfortable reading. What I did find interesting was the ingrained suspicions held by the community and the fear that they often provoked.
This novel is primarily a story of family and the inherent secrets that bind them together. It is a story of a family that will stop at almost nothing to ensure their farms future survival, that will inevitably plunge them into the depths of superstition and sinister practices.
Hurley has written a deeply disturbing, gripping and evocative novel, perfect for the stormy autumnal days we find ourselves in.
Thank you to Netgalley and John Murray Ltd for the opportunity to read and review.
About the author
Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in London and Manchester and now lives in Lancashire.
His debut novel, The Loney was published by small independent publisher Tartarus Press with a limited print run of 300. It was republished up by John Murray and won the Costa Best First Novel Award and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards in 2016.