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Starve Acre: 'His best novel so…
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Starve Acre: 'His best novel so far' The Times (edição: 2019)

de Andrew Michael Hurley (Autor)

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15412141,962 (3.94)9
The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby's son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place. Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree. Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.… (mais)
Membro:chilli
Título:Starve Acre: 'His best novel so far' The Times
Autores:Andrew Michael Hurley (Autor)
Informação:John Murray (2019), 256 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Starve Acre de Andrew Michael Hurley

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A strange, wonderful folk gothic tale, which I will definitely read again once I've read Hurley's other novels, because I'm sure each time I read it I will pick up on more details. Dark and spooky and fascinating. ( )
  JBD1 | May 9, 2021 |
And so, the secret is out. Starve Acre, originally issued by Dead Ink Books as part of their Eden Book Society series, was not written by the elusive (by which read “fictional”) 1970s author Jonathan Buckley, but is, in fact, Andrew Michael Hurley's third novel. Starve Acre has now been published by John Murray under Hurley’s name and with new cover art. Having enjoyed "Buckley"’s horror novella, I was eager to read this version, curious to discover whether it would be an expanded take on the original.

As it turns out, I would say that around 85% of the text of the two novels is identical, such that the forthcoming version of Starve Acre is less a reworking than a variant of the previous edition. There is an important difference, which I’ll come to later but, in essence, the book remains the same: to quote Hurley himself, a work “very much in the folk horror tradition”, about “how grief strips the world into two”. So, if you’ve already read my review of the Eden Book Society edition, bear with me: there will be some repetition which, in the circumstances, I trust can be forgiven.

Starve Acre’s protagonists are Richard and Juliette, a couple who have lost their only son, Ewan, and are trying to get to grips with this tragic, life-changing event. Whilst Juliette believes that Ewan lives on in their house in rural Yorkshire, Richard, an archaeologist by profession, becomes obsessed with the sterile field contiguous to this house, and what lies buried beneath its dark soil.

The Eden Book Society series is based on the fictional premise that its books were written back in the 1970s. True to that brief, the original story contained some period-specific references which suggest that decade (such as Richard working on a typewriter and the conspicuous lack of mention of more recent technologies such as mobile phones). This ‘historical’ backdrop has been retained. However, in true folk horror tradition, the evil which lurks within the pages of the novel is ancient and timeless – an age-old shadow which is at one with the landscape and soil, an arcane folk figure which has terrified the villagers for centuries and which returns to curse the ‘city outsiders’ who naively try to live a dream of a simple country life.

This evil is nudged back to existence after Hurley’s protagonists, Richard and Juliette relocate from Leeds to the rural house which used to belong to Richard’s parents. Richard is not too keen on this move, particularly since it evokes memories of his father’s final mental breakdown. Juliette, however, fantasizes about their little son Ewan playing with the village children, and about raising a family of rascally young Willoughbys far from the hustle and bustle of the city. These dreams are shattered when Ewan dies in circumstances which remain vague and unexplained. Juliette falls into a debilitating depression, whereas Richard, like his father before him, spends days digging in the soil of the neighbouring “Starve Acre”, unearthing what look like the roots of an ancient “hanging tree” and the bones of a large hare. A well-meaning neighbour introduces the couple to a local mystic who conducts a séance-like ceremony in the house. It all goes horribly wrong, leading to the novella’s chilling denouement.

The story’s narrative is deftly handled, shifting seamlessly between the grief-soaked present of the Willoughbys, flashbacks to Ewan’s disturbed final months and half-remembered legends of bogeymen of English folklore.

At first I struggled to detect any notable novelty in this edition of Starve Acre, except for a subplot concerning Richard’s mother, which helps to reinforce the us-and-them mentality of the village folk. The major – and quite surprising – difference comes at the very end. I would not like to give the game away and so what I will reveal is that whilst the new version of Starve Acre is not as graphically violent as the original edition, it achieves an equally powerful climax by shifting to the final pages one of the most disturbing and hair/hare-raising images of the novella.

If anything, this new ending emphasizes a sense of ambiguity which the novella shares with some classic ghost and horror stories including, to name just one famous example, Oliver Onions’ The Beckoning Fair One. Thus, Starve Acre can be read literally as a supernatural tale or, at another level, as a study of a descent into madness and obsession, its otherworldly elements merely the morbid imaginings of sick minds. Either way, Hurley continues to confirm his status as the current master of folk horror. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
And so, the secret is out. Starve Acre, originally issued by Dead Ink Books as part of their Eden Book Society series, was not written by the elusive (by which read “fictional”) 1970s author Jonathan Buckley, but is, in fact, Andrew Michael Hurley's third novel. Starve Acre has now been published by John Murray under Hurley’s name and with new cover art. Having enjoyed "Buckley"’s horror novella, I was eager to read this version, curious to discover whether it would be an expanded take on the original.

As it turns out, I would say that around 85% of the text of the two novels is identical, such that the forthcoming version of Starve Acre is less a reworking than a variant of the previous edition. There is an important difference, which I’ll come to later but, in essence, the book remains the same: to quote Hurley himself, a work “very much in the folk horror tradition”, about “how grief strips the world into two”. So, if you’ve already read my review of the Eden Book Society edition, bear with me: there will be some repetition which, in the circumstances, I trust can be forgiven.

Starve Acre’s protagonists are Richard and Juliette, a couple who have lost their only son, Ewan, and are trying to get to grips with this tragic, life-changing event. Whilst Juliette believes that Ewan lives on in their house in rural Yorkshire, Richard, an archaeologist by profession, becomes obsessed with the sterile field contiguous to this house, and what lies buried beneath its dark soil.

The Eden Book Society series is based on the fictional premise that its books were written back in the 1970s. True to that brief, the original story contained some period-specific references which suggest that decade (such as Richard working on a typewriter and the conspicuous lack of mention of more recent technologies such as mobile phones). This ‘historical’ backdrop has been retained. However, in true folk horror tradition, the evil which lurks within the pages of the novel is ancient and timeless – an age-old shadow which is at one with the landscape and soil, an arcane folk figure which has terrified the villagers for centuries and which returns to curse the ‘city outsiders’ who naively try to live a dream of a simple country life.

This evil is nudged back to existence after Hurley’s protagonists, Richard and Juliette relocate from Leeds to the rural house which used to belong to Richard’s parents. Richard is not too keen on this move, particularly since it evokes memories of his father’s final mental breakdown. Juliette, however, fantasizes about their little son Ewan playing with the village children, and about raising a family of rascally young Willoughbys far from the hustle and bustle of the city. These dreams are shattered when Ewan dies in circumstances which remain vague and unexplained. Juliette falls into a debilitating depression, whereas Richard, like his father before him, spends days digging in the soil of the neighbouring “Starve Acre”, unearthing what look like the roots of an ancient “hanging tree” and the bones of a large hare. A well-meaning neighbour introduces the couple to a local mystic who conducts a séance-like ceremony in the house. It all goes horribly wrong, leading to the novella’s chilling denouement.

The story’s narrative is deftly handled, shifting seamlessly between the grief-soaked present of the Willoughbys, flashbacks to Ewan’s disturbed final months and half-remembered legends of bogeymen of English folklore.

At first I struggled to detect any notable novelty in this edition of Starve Acre, except for a subplot concerning Richard’s mother, which helps to reinforce the us-and-them mentality of the village folk. The major – and quite surprising – difference comes at the very end. I would not like to give the game away and so what I will reveal is that whilst the new version of Starve Acre is not as graphically violent as the original edition, it achieves an equally powerful climax by shifting to the final pages one of the most disturbing and hair/hare-raising images of the novella.

If anything, this new ending emphasizes a sense of ambiguity which the novella shares with some classic ghost and horror stories including, to name just one famous example, Oliver Onions’ The Beckoning Fair One. Thus, Starve Acre can be read literally as a supernatural tale or, at another level, as a study of a descent into madness and obsession, its otherworldly elements merely the morbid imaginings of sick minds. Either way, Hurley continues to confirm his status as the current master of folk horror. ( )
1 vote JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
What in the name of all that is holy have I just read? I have never been so creeped out by a book but being able to evoke such emotions meant that I strangely enjoyed it. I have never read the critically acclaimed The Loney so this is my first introduction to Andrew Michael Hurley's writing and wow can he write! It's like Andrew Michael Hurley studied horror writing at the University of Stephen King and graduated with first class honours.

Starve Acre is a very creepy place, reputed to have had an old hanging tree on the land of which Richard is searching for evidence. When his son Ewan was alive, Ewan claimed to be able to see this fabled tree and Ewan could also hear the voice of scary legend Jack Grey, telling him to do certain wicked things. Richard's wife, Juliette, is obviously suffering terribly after the loss of her son but she claims to see Ewan in the house. The story gets really spooky when Juliette invites a group of occultists into her home and even the leader of the group is creeped out by the house.

Starve Acre is deeply atmospheric, as well as being very weird and horrifying but I rather liked it. Not only due to the lack of chapters, but because of the increasingly intriguing and spooky storyline, it's a book that is very difficult to put down. To say that it is weird would be an understatement; if you think Stephen King books are weird then Andrew Michael Hurley is like Stephen King on steroids.

Starve Acre is a difficult book to recommend to all as it fits more of a niche group of readers; you definitely need to have an open mind and not take your fiction too seriously. If you're looking for something different with a hint of the supernatural and a huge dollop of weird, then you'll love Starve Acre.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion. ( )
1 vote Michelle.Ryles | Mar 9, 2020 |
There is no doubt that Hurley writes superb prose. His descriptions of a bleak, desolate landscape, still in the grip of a late winter, then slowly unfurling into a less bleak, but still barren, Spring, is beautiful.

And there are elements of this story that are magical. For the most part, there is a question mark over what lies behind the events that occurred prior to the death of Richard and Juliette’s young son, Ewan. They could, as archaeologist and academic Richard believes (wants to believe?), be due to medical factors. Or is there something far more macabre going on?

But then, one event, in the first part of the book, totally ruined this for me, and therefore my overall enjoyment of the book. The hare. Specifically, the rejuvenation of said hare. More specifically, Richard’s reaction to said rejuvenation of said hare. Richard, the sceptic, who does not bat an eyelid that a skeleton has grown tissue, muscles, blood vessels, skin, a pelt. It doesn’t perturb him in the slightest. He carries on distrusting the spiritualist Beacons, even while he’s monitoring the rebirth of a dead animal. Really? Are we just meant to believe that he is so deep in mourning that he will just accept it? It seems so out of character with all his other behaviours, and the whole scene relatively out of keeping with the rest of the story, that it grated on me. ( )
1 vote TheEllieMo | Jan 18, 2020 |
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The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby's son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place. Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree. Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

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