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The Crack Magazine


Starve Acre

Andrew Michael Hurley, John Murray

Andrew Michael Hurley proved himself a modern master of unnerving folk horror in previous novels ‘The Loney’ and ‘Devil’s Day’, but this is his best work to date. Set in rural Yorkshire, during an unspecified time period – possibly the 1970s or 1980s – married couple Richard and Juliette Willoughby are grieving over Ewan, their dead five-year-old son. Richard is trying to put his life back together but Juliette spends much of her time in Ewan’s old nursery. When she gets wind of the Beacons however, an occult like group who specialise in contacting the dead, her spirits are raised. Hurley throws all manner of slow-burning but creepy goings-on at his latest tale – including ancient hanging trees and weird acting animals – and Richard has more than a touch of one of MR James’s fusty professor types swirling around him. It’s not perfect – one of the characters witnesses a clearly supernatural event but then refuses to believe in others – but this is a novel to be savoured on a dark night with something perhaps a little stronger that you’d usually drink…