Starve Acre

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Member Reviews

Anther great book from Mr 
 Partly a tale of demonic haunting, partly a study in grief, above all once again a cast of believable characters caught up in extraordinary events. Like all true artists he makes it appear effortless.

My enduring impression was of the insular nature of rural communities and their reluctance to embrace outsiders. The reality of country life sadly at odds with the bucolic dream.

Highly recommended.
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What a spooky little story !

Richard and  Juliette moved into Starveacre hoping to live an idyllic family life in the countryside-but things don't quite go according to plan. Their only  son Ewen dies at the age of 5 and they are left devastated . 
Whilst Juliette wallows in her grief -Richard is out at all hours on an archeological dig in the field next door.  One day he unearths a strange skeleton of what appears to be a hare ...
The author keeps us on the edge of our seat while we wait for what we KNOW  is going to be a shocking ending - and it does not disappoint !
Read if you dare !
Thankyou NetGalley for an ARC in return for an honest review
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A compact book about parents that have lost ther young son and their inability to come to terms with the death. The mother turns to spiritualists whilst the father digs over their folklore-laden field where a hanging tree once stood. Unfortunately, for me, the suspense never built to a desirable level and the “reveal” left me somewhat deflated.
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This book is not the sort of thing I usually read but the first few chapters given in the ‘first glance’ were so compelling and well written that I had to read the whole book. I’m struggling to decide exactly what genre this book does fall under as ‘fantasy’ which seems the closest, doesn’t for me take into account what a well drawn domestic drama it is. 
I raced through the book for two reasons. One, it was incredibly well written and pacy and two, it was for me, too short. Yes I like that it was a quick and satisfying read but the characters were so good and there were so many connections between each of them that the author didn’t expand on I do feel it could easily have had another hundred pages at least. 
I did figure out one of the twists as I got closer to it but that didn’t detract from the story, but I did know what the last page(s) would contain because the cover gave that away for me. Again, being proved right was no hardship! 
A word of praise to the publishers as the cover art is stunning and the volume is a lovely compact and comfortable to hold book. It’s definitely not one to shove on a bookshelf and forget about. 
I will be reading Mr Hurley’s other books and look forward to his future ones!
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I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book, subject to an honest review. Overall, I enjoyed this book. However, it felt very rushed at the end and it didn't sit totally right with me. It could have reached its conclusion slightly differently, I feel. 
#StarveAcre #NetGalley
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Creepy as anything! With a shocker of an ending. 

Richard Willoughby inherited his home and was persuaded to move into it by his wife, Julia. Richard has taken to a hobby of excavating his field, opposite the house, while Julia spends her time in Ewan's room, hoping for a sign of him, Ewan.

The local village population don't figure much in their lives, they haven't since Richard was a boy. Gordon Lambwell does though. He was fond of Ewan and wants to help with Julia's situation. He has introduced her to Mrs Forde who has, apparently, helped many others before. 

Gordon doesn't like that Richard is digging his field, believing that Richard should leave things be. But Richard is dismissive of Gordon's concerns.

Harrie comes to visit, more like take over, but Julia doesn't want any family around and resists Harrie's attempts to help.

Following a curious find in the field, developments continue in the house and Mrs Forde has her visit.

This was an edgy read and the ending was just so 'creepy'. Of course, I enjoyed it.
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Enjoyed this short story - kept me gripped throughout and the folk horror was evident.  The ending left a little to be desired, not sure how I felt about it but it's sticking with me so it's one of those novels that, for me, leaves me engaged.  Read if you like English folk horror!
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Starve Acre is a deeply unsettling little book. While short, it packs an incredibly strong punch emotionally as Hurley delves into the lives of the two lead characters - Richard and Juliette as they deal with the grief of losing their young son, Ewan. 
Instead of this death being the catalyst for the strange events at play in the novel, it becomes increasingly obvious that something was rotten before he died. The situation with Ewan - which I'm trying not to give too much away on - raises some questions tied into the evergreen nature vs nurture debate. The relationship between the boy and his parents is one of the strongest parts of the book both in terms of that emotional punch and when the pace appears to pick up. 
The matter of fact tone adopted by Hurley throughout makes the book all the more disturbing. At times it reads almost like a dry textbook relaying of events. It takes a moment for the brain to catch up and be like, "whoa, whoa, whoa, back up here, nope, this is weird." I particularly enjoyed that aspect of it to be honest. 
Starve Acre is a deceptively violent book. While there isn't much in the way of blood and gore smeared across the pages, certain events depicted throughout are so horrifying. Even those events which are not specifically spelled out are lent an additional aura of menace - if Hurley is telling us this happened, then that must have been even more horrific. A scene with a snowman was particularly harrowing for me.
If you like your stories strange, or you like quiet, esoteric horror, Starve Acre will be right up your street.
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Richard and Juliette are struggling after the death of their son, Ewan. Prior to his death Ewan’s behaviour had become strange and unpredictable. But was his fear of the field outside their house due to an overactive imagination or does a sinister presence lurk around Starve Acre.
The book is well written and carries the same eerie sense of menace as The Lonely, leaving the reader unnerved and unsure what to believe. . However, whilst I enjoy an open ending, I felt too many questions were left unanswered - to state which, would be to give away spoilers. 
Overall ,however, this is another great book from Andrew Michael Hurley and fans of The Lonely won’t be disappointed.
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I love a good ghost story but unfortunately I just could not connect with this book. I thought the plot was very good and dark it was more to do with the connection to the characters or lack of. I just could get on with them.
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Thank you to Andrew Michael Hurley, John Murray and NetGalley for the ARC of Starve Acre.
This is not my usual read but I was utterly intrigued.  I wasnt sure where the story was leading but I allowed it to take me into a gothicy tale of strangeness. Clearly Ewen evoked very mixed feelings from his parents and although Juliette wasnt particularly likeable she wanted to explore his behaviour whereas Richard seemed to think his behaviour was acceptable in a five year old. He was rather an jneffectual personality. The story is laced with traditional village witchery which I love. About seven eigths through Id worked out what was going to happen. I hoped it wouldnt but there you go. She went right ahead and did it. Of course she did!
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The story of Starve Acre is very quick to set its scene of an eerie, isolated family who even before the loss of their son felt alienated from their village community. Told through the present-day events and a series of flash backs, the story plays out in an ever-escalating series of events with an imposing threat that could be supernatural in nature or just an unfortunate tragedy of a family unable to cope.

This is the first novel I have read from this author (although not the first I have owned), and I really enjoyed the emotion and mystery that the story conjured. It didn’t take a long for me to that I wanted to know more regarding the characters – early on we know that they have lost their son but not the circumstances, with details sparingly scattered throughout. Due to the gothic nature of the stories, very few character’s motivations seek clear and I found I wanted to know where the story was going which kept me reading. Often just enough information was given to make you wonder but without really answering, giving the reader the ability to come to their own conclusion. I felt this generally really worked with this story, because at all times it leaves you wondering what could you believe. 

For myself, this was also the reason I did not give the book 5 stars, I felt some elements had been left a little too open ended, and as I had no one to discuss theories with, I felt that I wanted one of the strands to be resolved to stop me being too uncertain. I enjoyed the supernatural elements but at time wanted something more to confirm or disprove my theory – which is something that I truly believe a lot of readers will enjoy. Especially as I feel this gives you the opportunity to re-read the story so that all the extra nuggets of information can be identified and examined.

Overall, I felt the pacing was well done, as information could be sparse, it kept you going and whilst not a long story, it didn’t feel as though it should have been a different length. 

Generally, the characters were interesting, it felt as though everyone was painted a spectrum of grey with their own motivations and as such it didn’t particularly matter to me if I did or didn’t dislike them. Something that can be a challenge when an author clearly makes their intent for how you should feel known and your experience doesn’t quite line up. I did feel there were a few unneeded secondary characters but overall it felt like a tight rein had been kept.

Ultimately this felt like a story for those looking for a gothic, potentially supernatural read, unafraid of the sometimes disturbing and cruel.
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Andrew Michael Hurley returns with a hauntingly beautiful written novel of a couple shaken by the sudden death of her five year old son. 

Juliette and Richard Willoughby were a happily married couple. They moved to a rural Yorkshire village into a house Richard inherited from his parents. Here, they think, or at least Juliette thinks, that this would be a much better environment for their little boy. But soon Richard gets obsessed by digging for the roots of an old tree on the field which belongs to his house. Their son Ewan, at first a lovely boy, begins to show signs of violence and there are some very upsetting events which he caused. He claims that he hears a voice which tells him to do those cruel things. After Ewan’s sudden deaths Juliette is absolutely devastated and can’t let go. An old friend tells her about a woman who can help people in her own special way. Richard is skeptical but wants to try everything to help Juliette with her grief. And indeed after this kind of séance Juliette begins to feel better. But that does not change things for the better after all.

Hurley has a gift for creating atmospheric books. He has a thing for English folklore and in all of his books he weaves some of it into it. I’ve read his two previous books and I liked especially “The Looney”. “Starve Acre” is a bit shorter than the other ones and that is a good thing. He keeps it nice and short here. He is not a master of suspense and his last book “Devil’s Day” was a bit too long and therefore a bit lengthy. Here the story feels just right. There are strange things going on in this little village and especially with Ewan. There are really some goose bump moments. 

I am not so happy with the characters. Richard is a very boring guy and Juliette is horrible. Even before Ewan’s death she is an ignorant and controlling woman and Richard seems to have not much to say in their marriage. There is a scene with a psychiatrist in which she acts extremely weird. The story is also very mystical. Not everything is explained. It’s more left for your imagination. The ending is kind of strange and does not give you all the answers. But this is Andrew Michael Hurley’s style. I like the way he writes and creates a different kind of stories. I enjoyed reading this book although it was very strange. But maybe I just liked it because of that.
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Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for letting me read this early for a honest review.
This book is a quick read and somewhat dark and I like both these aspects in a book but sadly this book wasn’t really for me, but I think it just wasn’t the right time for me to read it, I didn’t care much for the main characters I felt they were kind of boring and it felt very drawn out at the beginning in the first couple of chapters for me, it definitely did pick up after that and if it was the right time for me I probably would of enjoyed it a lot more because the whole fibe of the book was great and the whole ghost story stuff is my thing so I was a bit sad that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought, but nevertheless I am going to give it another read in the few months and may change my opinion on it then. Regardless of my views  right now I would definitely recommend it to people that like the genre. I gave this book for now 3 stars.
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I loved this book.  It is so well-written, and conveys a sense of unease and creepiness from the first page.  I was completely drawn in to the unfolding tragedy, and the ending was completely shocking, but wholly appropriate.  I would thoroughly recommend this as a great read on a winter night.
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This is modern Gothic horror at its best! A bleak and disturbing setting, a fair amount of isolation, and family land with a mysterious and dark history all come together to create the threatening atmosphere that makes this story so special. 

Ewan, the troubled child of parents Richard and Juliette, has died at five years of age. Juliette is adamant that Ewan is still with them, that she can feel his presence. She rarely leaves his room, has almost stopped eating, and is withdrawing more and more from her husband and family. A family friend suggests that she have an occultist friend of his visit. During the meeting, something occurs that breaks Juliette's overwhelming grief, but she won't share with Richard what it was. However, the grief has only changed into something more disturbing.

Richard has dealt with his grief by working in a field on their property, searching for evidence of an old oak tree that no longer exists. The oak played a part in some particularly disturbing tales from the past and Richard wants to see if it really existed. While searching, he finds something interesting, digs it up, and takes it to the house. After a few days he makes a startling discovery about his find and the stage is set for the final horror of the story. 

Deliciously spooky, unsettling, and dark, Starve Acre was a perfect read for this first truly autumnal day. I read while the rain lashed the windows, the trees swayed, and the cats curled up beside me. Gothic bliss.

Thanks to Netgalley and John Murray Press for providing this ARC in return for an honest review.
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I was falling over myself trying to get an ARC of Starve Acre, having loved The Loney so much that it makes my top ten every time I’m asked! I was beyond excited when I was accepted by the publisher. Thank you so much Netgalley and John Murray Press.

Subsequent to the sudden death of their five-year-old son, Ewan, Richard and Juliette try to cope with the aftermath. Juliette is unwilling to let go, and we soon suspect that there is more to this than mere grief. Richard is distressed and distracted. Juliette’s authoritarian sister, Harrie, arrives to try to prise Juliette from the house and back to her parents, but realises there is no chance until the Beacons, a seeming innocuous group of occultists have visited to impart some other-worldly knowledge upon the bereaved parents. We are drip-fed unsettling information throughout, but we can’t look away. Great characters, deliciously chilling folklore, adept capture of the divisive nature of grief, and perfect setting.

Dripping with malevolence, it plays on our darkest fears and intensifies the superstitious mindset of some British countryside folk. It’s gorgeous.

The story reminded me of Henry James and the best of MR James, and one Stephen King novel in particular *feels hair on arms rise. 

It’s brief; I read it in one sitting. It feels like I’ve been given a flash of something awful in the torchlight and now all I can do is think about it and let my imagination do the rest. 

Having experienced the worst nightmare of my adult life halfway through reading The Loney, I am pleased to confirm that Starve Acre is another masterpiece of modern folk horror. My only regret is that I read this on a sun lounger in Morocco and not cosied up in a chair, with a suitable autumn storm blowing wildly outside. I’m going to read it again in the dark when the weather turns. Stunning, Andrew Michael Hurley. I can still feel this one in my bones.
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Set in the wilds of remote north Yorkshire Starve Acre revolves around the death of a child, so the story is ultimately even bleaker than the location. The first narrative follows the events leading up to the death and the second a few months afterwards. Both are harrowing reads, especially as the death itself dominates both narratives but is described in only the vaguest of terms. On one level the book is a study of the grief felt by Richard and Juliette Willoughby and how they cope with the death of their five-year-old son Ewan. I know, and with good reason, many readers avoid novels which centre upon the deaths of children, but this gripping tale is a powerful study and equal to Andrew Cull’s masterful Remains which was published recently and deals with a similar subject.  

This exquisite novel has several layers and like everything Andrew Michael Hurley has written the location is absolutely critical. Richard and Juliette inherited Starve Acre from his parents and although he did not particularly wish to return to his childhood home his wife persuades him to do so and not long afterwards the behaviour of their son Ewan becomes unpredictable, with signs of cruelty, and there is a brooding sense that something is not right. What makes this even more powerful is that the reader knows right from the off about the death of the boy and the book is about the journey to this horrific event and the latter disintegration of the family. 
The house resides beside a patch of ground which was used for hangings in previous centuries, where a legendary oak tree once stood, Richard develops an unhealthy interest in, whilst his son is afraid of the area. Developing bad dreams and fear of the dark Ewan claims to hear a man called ‘Jack Grey’ who sounds like a bogeyman from folklore, however, I could not find any reference to him except for as a character in other ghost stories. These sequences simply crackled and the fear was palpable, especially as the reader knows what calamity is around the corner.

Throw in an outstanding séance scene, shocking animal cruelty, Richard and Juliette’s inability to help their child despite his cries for help and isolation at the local primary school and you have an outstanding story. Much of the supernatural element is incredibly subtle and kept very low key and just do not get me started on the hare in the pram. Simply outstanding imagery. 

A highly recommended read and the sake of picking up something different I would recommend the Eden Book Society Edition so you can marvel at their efforts to recreate 1972 and introduce ‘Jonathan Buckley’ (deceased 1970 after a heart attack) to an unsuspecting world!
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''He says my name sometimes. He tells me to come to the tree.''

A young family moves to the moors, to a house where dreams and nightmares co-exist. The forest nearby hides secrets and strange apparitions. But the young parents are hopeful, away from the noise and threats of the big city. Soon, everything changes. A young boy becomes almost unrecognizable, his intentions inexplicable and violent. A tree appears at will and a presence, called Jack Grey, seems to have entered the boy's mind and is there to stay. What happens when the house you have chosen has a heavy shadow? Too heavy for anyone to bear. How do you defend against a threat you cannot see? How do you cope when the greatest and most unbearable of ills haunt your every step?

This novel excels in the creation of the proper atmosphere for a novel that seems -and I stress the word ''seems''- full of mystery, a homage to the dark Folklore of the British forests. There are certain passages that can freeze your blood because the imagery described and communicated is so powerful, almost tangible. But the novel seems to rely on these features and never moves into something deeper. Yes, the story is definitely intriguing and the ambiguity surrounding the family and, particularly, the child is effective but it is nothing we haven't seen before. I felt that it soon lost a purpose and there were many threads that needed handling and closure. In the end, I thought that the novel was the personification of the phrase ''much ado about nothing.'' 
The characters are weak and uninspiring. Richard could have some potential but he is lost in the nightmare that is Juliette. I am sorry but I've seldom found such an irritating character in the pages of a book that wants to be taken seriously. She is plainly horrible long before the tragedy that befalls their household. And even this does not account for her obsessive, dismissive, ignorant attitude towards everything and everyone that doesn't agree with her opinion and choices. She even attacks a psychiatrist because the know-it-all- goddess Juliette has already formed her personal diagnosis. I cannot imagine sharing the same house with such a shrew, not to mention her sister. Juliette has reduced her husband into a void presence, a stranger in his own house. So, he is one of the most patient characters I've ever encountered in a novel. And one of the most boring and unrealistic. One side, a snoozefest, the other side a bloody nuisance. I wonder how I was able to finish this book...

And yet, I know the answer. I finished the book because the prose itself was rather good and the scenery was brilliantly depicted. But these elements are not enough. Yes, I could use the adjectives ''atmospheric, complex, challenging.''  It had potential, it could have been perfect. However, the characters were a disaster, the plot used Folklore elements without a purpose, lacking in depth and development, and the dialogue itself was uninspired, the themes repetitive and stalled. And don't get me started on the closure. I was far from impressed and having The Devil's Day on my upcoming reads, I feel the shadows closing in…Let us hope for the best...
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This is the second book I have read by this author (the first being The Loney). Hurley is particularly adept at creating a haunting, Gothic atmosphere; one with strange characters, often displaying odd behaviour against protagonists specifically. Starve Acre is written in a similar vein to Hurley’s first novel but is less focused on the supernatural; instead, he concentrates on the trials of a couple living in a remote part of northern England - and how they deal with the unexplained death of Ewan, their young son. Her husband, Richard, is trying to hold their relationship together, as is Harrie, Juliette’s visiting sister from  Edinburgh. Juliette won’t let go of Ewan - his bedroom is a shrine; she sleeps in there for hours on end; she claims she can see and hear him. She is clearly distraught given what has happened to her son.

When Mrs Forde and the Beacons visit to try and resolve the situation (not through a seance, as such, but through some other means), it marks a significant change in Juliette’s behaviour - as does Richard’s creation of a hare from a pile of bones, something that becomes more important later on.

At times, Hurley’s novel is creepy and suggests a horrific past - namely through the frequently mentioned character of John Grey and the history of the field opposite Starve Acre. However, at other times, it seems a little forced - particularly concerning Richard’s hare and how it comes to life. I found this a little too fantastical and it detracted from the haunting loss of Ewan and the impact of this on his parents. Hurley does make links here but they don’t always feel as convincing as I’d have liked. 

Starve Acre is a good read and I really enjoyed Hurley’s creation of a family in crisis, alongside the setting of a house that Richard never wanted to return to. It tells readers about the damage a small community can do - but also how powerless people can be when other forces are at play.
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