My rating : 4 out of 5 stars
The Loney is a gothic horror novel set on the Lancashire coast, northwest England. At the very beginning, the body of a baby is discovered in an old house that has been washed into the sea. Seeing the reports, the unnamed narrator (okay, his family name is Smith and a priest calls him Tonto) recalls a time in the 1970s when his family used to visit there to pray for a miracle for his mute brother, Hanny (Andrew).
Overall this book is very well written and extremely atmospheric. I would say that is its best feature. It really makes you feel the cold and the mist, the creepiness and the unfriendliness of the locals. While there are a couple of horrific scenes, its difficult to classify it as a traditional horror because its not particularly jumpy, it's more the overreaching sense of dread that permeates everything.
What I liked about it most was that the author uses clever devices to set it apart from other books in its genre. For example, instead of mum and dad we have "Mummer" and "Farther", while the book is never referred to by his actual given name, giving him a certain disconnection from the reader and the sense that something unusual might happen.
What I didn't like so much was that things are never really explained that well. I think that was the author's intention, and obviously as an author myself I understand these things, but certain aspects of the plot were left unresolved. The biggest being of course what really was going on in Thessally, the big old house that has collapsed at the very start of the novel, to reveal some of its secrets. Another thing that is very clear by the end is that Smith is an unreliable narrator, meaning that he might not be telling us everything he knows.
If you like dark and atmospheric books rather that out and out horrors, you might want to give this one a go, but be warned that there's an absolutely ton of religious symbolism in it and certain things you're hoping to find out at the end will be left to your imagination.