“Devil’s Day” by Andrew Michael Hurley – Book Review

In rural Lancashire, almost on the Yorkshire border, there is a place called the ‘Endlands”. A place where generations of the same families have eked out an existence from farming. An insular place riven with superstition and long-standing family feuds.

“The Endlands are remote, not secluded; watchful rather than peaceful.”

We arrive in the Endlands with John and Kat Pentecost. John left the farm when he went off to university. Now he works as a schoolteacher. He met his wife Kat and they now live in Suffolk.  Since their wedding, this is the first visit home for John. It is a somber occasion as his beloved ‘Gaffer’, his grandfather has died.

Endlands is a dreary and very eerie place. It is late autumn and the land is bleak, cold, damp, and unwelcoming. In addition to The Gaffer’s funeral, the Endlands residents are preparing for the annual ‘Devil’s Day’ celebration. Devil’s Day has its roots in ancient superstition, yet some of the residents still believe… Some families accredit a recent spate of bad luck to the Devil, or “Owd Feller‘ as they call him. They believe that the Owd Feller lives up high on the moors.

John feels a keen sense of belonging to the Endlands. He feels a familial responsibility to stay and help his father with the arduous work on the farm. Meanwhile, newly pregnant Kat assumes that they will return to their home in Suffolk…

Then, a burdensome and alarming revelation is made…

The setting of  “Devil’s Day” is every much a character as are the people who inhabit the Endlands. Very well described, the sense of place pervades the entire story. It is a place where children are raised to continue on in the footsteps of their forefathers. A place where little changes over the generations and neighbours are constants in your life, sometimes helpful and sometimes not so much…

This is a very slow-paced novel. Also, it seems to have several characters that are on the periphery of the action who aren’t fleshed out enough to be distinguishable. That being said, the main characters are quite vividly rendered and the atmosphere is chilling. There is a lot of village history throughout the book, which some readers might not like, while others will relish. I enjoyed the history, but it had little to do with the actual plot of the story. Also, there was a lot of description in the book. So much so that despite it being beautifully rendered, I felt it distracted the reader from the story itself.

Some scenes are very vivid and quite unsettling, in particular the one where Kat dances blindfolded on Devil’s Day.

The author’s knowledge of the Lancashire area and its folkloric traditions is very evident.

An unsettling, beautifully written, perturbing novel, that I’m of mixed feelings about… Now, I think I’ll have to read “The Loney“, the author’s debut…

I received a complimentary digital copy of “Devil’s Day” from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Edelweiss.

Andrew Michael Hurley was born in born 1975 and lives in Lancashire, where he teaches English literature and creative writing. His first novel, The Loney, was originally published by Tartarus Press as a 300-copy limited-edition, before being republished by John Murray. It went on to sell in twenty languages, win the Costa Best First Novel Award and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards. Devil’s Day, his second novel, was picked as a Book of the Year in five newspapers and won the Encore Award. Starve Acre is published by John Murray in 2019.

 

 

 

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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7 Responses to “Devil’s Day” by Andrew Michael Hurley – Book Review

  1. carhicks says:

    NIce, honest review Lynne. It sounds like it has its moments, but some problems as well. I am not big on slow moving, so this one is probably not for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was tempted to skim parts of it but the writing was so beautiful I just couldn’t.
      It definitely has a limited audience I think.
      (by the way I usually never skim through books. I was just impatient to get to the meat of the story and the description bogged it down…)

      Liked by 2 people

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