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Summary

Book of the year in The Times, The Sunday Times, FT and Mail on Sunday

In the wink of an eye, as quick as a flea,

The Devil he jumped from me to thee.

And only when the Devil had gone,

Did I know that he and I'd been one....

Every autumn, John Pentecost returns to the farm where he grew up to help gather the sheep down from the moors for the winter. Very little changes in the Endlands, but this year, his grandfather - the Gaffer - has died and John's new wife, Katherine, is accompanying him for the first time.

Each year, the Gaffer would redraw the boundary lines of the village, with pen and paper, but also through the remembrance of tales and timeless communal rituals, which keep the sheep safe from the Devil. But as the farmers of the Endlands bury the Gaffer, and prepare to gather the sheep, they begin to wonder whether they've let the Devil in after all….

©2017 Andrew Michael Hurley (P)2017 John Murray Press

Critic reviews

"The new master of menace." ( Sunday Times)

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    5 out of 5 stars

The Devil's Own Country?


Andrew Michael Hurley’s first novel The Loney (reviewed by me here on 17/12/15) won the Costa First Novel Award: Devil’s Day is a distinctive second novel .

John Pentecost has returned ‘home’ to the small community of struggling small-holders on the Lancashire uplands for the funeral of his grandfather known as The Gaffer. Accompanying him is his pregnant wife Kat, a complete outsider amongst the tough, superstitious and ungiving extended families. John wants to resign from his teaching post and stay to help his stubborn, ageing father keep the farm of his ancestors going, whilst all Kat wants is to escape back home.

The land with its moors, crags and water, its sheep, deer and savage roaming dogs, is both isolated and dangerous, the Devil’s lair. It’s also a powerful protagonist. Another presence is the abattoir in the valley into which local lads follow their fathers ‘like pigs to the killing floor’. Ramifications of slaughter thread through the whole story with gothic noir themes of devil tales pursued partly through the character of the strangely and unsettlingly gifted girl Grace always fretting for her vanished father.

Very dark secrets about The Gaffer and about John himself are teased out, plot lines are constantly absorbing and surprising amidst elegantly controlled drama and tension. It’s thick with rumour and folklore all firmly rooted in ‘normal’, ordinary life, and eventually there is hope and triumph of a kind. Hurley’s writing is exceptionally good. The hostile landscape, birds, trees, animals and the farming in all its physical rawness are vividly created. Hurley has a great eye for beauty too – the ‘diphthong of the buzzard’; the ‘butterscotch belly of the kestrel’.

As in The Loney, the constant flashbacks are no doubt clearer on the page than they are when listening, which can be confusing. The narrator Richard Burnip is first-rate and captures all the moods of the varied narrative including John Pentecost’s stolidity and a wide range of accent, intonation and characters of all ages, including women.
Just get listening!

6 people found this helpful

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Horror springs up when you least expect it

This is like a cross between The Archers, Royston Vasey and The Wicker Man told through the eyes of a young farmer yearning to return to his life in The Endlands. The author provides is a lyrical description of the harsh realities of farming the bleak Northern moorlands. On one hand you could almost yearn for a life driven by hard but satisfying work, comforted by a warm kitchen fire and coddled by home cooked wholesome food. On the other, this exposes you to the gruesome realities of life in an isolated and fiercely superstitious community and to people who are despised by their neighbours and may or may not be seriously unhinged. The main character, who is also the narrator, is a disturbing man and his manipulation of his young pregnant wife is chillingly played out. My one criticism is the fact that his wife Kat is undoubtably appalled by what is going on around her, but is also inexplicably compliant to her husband’s demands and this leaves a bit of a gap in the story’s logic. Although some may say the pace is slow, this is a book that delivers its horror in short sharp bursts, and this is the thing that kept me listening to the end. I preferred The Loney but this is still a great read/listen and Richard Burnip narrated it beautifully.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent again

Really enjoyed this book .immersive, Lovely story telling. Excellent. What's next!! Will look forward to hopefully reading something very soon from this author

2 people found this helpful

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disturbing & profound

Told in earthy & evocative language, this book draws one ever deeper into the lives of the folk of the Endlands, where the tale told is as richly layered as the peat beneath the characters' feet. The truths the characters live by may be unpalatable, or even disturbing to the modern mind, but are no less profound for all that.
It is beautifully narrated, with a superb range of distinct character voices that could not be bettered if this were a full cast production. I will certainly be revisiting it again soon.

1 person found this helpful

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Superb all round

The narration is perfectly suited to this grim but hauntingly gripping story of the ways in which a place can inhabit us and refuse to let us leave.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant, Emerdale Farm, by Stephen King.

Just brilliant, the blackest gothic writing. so subtle, oso chilling. He catches the bleakness of working countryside perfectly in parts of the North. The best British writer of scary fiction.

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Plotting….. makes me wonder why they bothered

Competent and even quite skilful writing. Characters well enough imagined but ….. but the story is mind blowing, tedious to the point of misery. Avoid, if you value your mental health and well-being. Boring.

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Too long winded

Struggled not to give up on this book. A lot of waffle for the most part.

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Not for me.

I don’t remember disliking characters in a book as much as I disliked everyone in this story. I was shouting at the stupidity, selfishness and inexplicable behaviour of several of the characters. If the tokens weren’t so expensive I wouldn’t have finished listening to it. Nothing really happened and there was a lot of really dull descriptions of the setting.
Also , I found the accent it was read in , irritating . Listen to the sample, the rest of the book is just more and more of that...

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Creepy and moving

I thought this was a remarkable book, spooky, modern folk horror. the only thing was the narrator has a tendency to say everything in the same tone and that took some getting used to.