Happy Holidays to everyone! Returning with a #gothic novel that was devoured rather quickly amid the holiday cheer—though there’s little holiday cheer to be found in this one. The Loney is an exceptionally bleak and foreboding seaside gothic. Two brothers, one over protective (our narrator), the other helplessly mute, are in a constant state of unease during their church’s religious pilgrimage to “the Loney.” There they hope their religious rituals paired with the punishing climate will cure the innocent, mute brother. Taking place somewhere in the west of England, this book is a prime example of how to characterize a landscape into an aggressively looming villain. In fact, the passive “villains” in this book are much more intriguing than the active ones. I did find the ending to be a touch random and put together rather rapidly, but it’s not a book that hinges on the impact of its ending. It’s firmly about the tense and eerie journey beginning on the first page. There’s no shortage of grotesque discoveries in the woods, dying seagulls, godless seas, engulfing marshes, and lots of Catholic Scrupulosity (lots and lots and lots of it.) Andrew Michael Hurley creates amazingly crafted characters that each rub each other in just the right ways. The dialogue alone is exceptional at building the heavy tension that pervades this story. Highly recommend this to anyone looking for a beautifully written atmospheric story with a seasoning of religious excess.