Michael Andrew Hurley is a gifted writer who can create an atmosphere that is unsettling and eerie. In Devil’s Day, John and Kat are returning to John’s childhood home, a Lancashire farm, deep in the moor in the Endlands. John’s grandfather, known as The Gaffer, has died, and John returns to attend the funeral and also help with the gathering of the sheep. A celebration before The Gathering is soon approaching, known as Devil’s Day, where the family prepares a feast and engages in festivities, song, and rhyme to banish the devil from the moor. The devil, however, has already settled in the Endlands, and John’s family is infested with evil.
There is something sinister on the farm. Hurley presents the reader with an isolated set of characters with an overzealous sense of family loyalty and deep roots in superstition and folklore. Kat, the outsider, is the most sensitive to this sense of foreboding, and only wants to get through the gathering and leave for home as soon as possible. John, on the other hand, has a compulsion to return permanently to the farm that only grows stronger each day.
I loved the writing, the foreshadowing, and the fearful apprehension that pervades the story; however, with that much anticipation I expected a powerful, revelatory ending and was left feeling unsatisfied. Hurley could have done so many things with the surprises he leads the reader to expect, and the story didn’t deliver. I was left with more questions than answers. Still, Devil’s Day is worth the read. Also be sure to check out Hurley’s book, The Loney, if you love a dark, mysterious tale.
Many thanks to Edelweiss and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for this advance copy.