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Devil's Day por Andrew Michael Hurley
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Devil's Day (original 2017; edição 2018)

por Andrew Michael Hurley (Autor)

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
22015123,362 (3.49)2
"In the wink of an eye, as quick as a flea, / The Devil he jumped from me to thee. / And only when the Devil had gone, / Did I know that he and I'd been one ... Every autumn, John Pentecost returns to the farm where he grew up, to help gather the sheep down from the moors for the winter. Very little changes in the Endlands, but this year, his grandfather--the Gaffer--has died and John's new wife, Katherine, is accompanying him for the first time. Each year, the Gaffer would redraw the boundary lines of the village, with pen and paper but also through the remembrance of tales and timeless communal rituals, which keep the sheep safe from the Devil. But as the farmers of the Endlands bury the Gaffer and prepare to gather the sheep, they begin to wonder whether they've let the Devil in after all."--… (mais)
Membro:Luetzen
Título:Devil's Day
Autores:Andrew Michael Hurley (Autor)
Informação:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2018), 304 pages
Coleções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:***
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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Devil's Day por Andrew Michael Hurley (2017)

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This is a folk-horror story with extremely light (possibly nonexistent) supernatural elements. John Pentecost, who grew up on a farm in the north of England, has returned for his grandfather's funeral, which happens to coincide with a local tradition known as Devil's Day, in which the three farming families perform rituals to confuse/sate the devil so he'll sleep through the winter and not bother them. John brings with him his newly pregnant wife Kat, who is from an upper middle class family from the south of England. Over the course of the book, variously eerie, disturbing, and criminal activities ensue, interspersed with flashes backward and forward over the course of about a century.

So I really loved the description and atmosphere. It is extremely slow-moving, but Hurley writes beautifully and hauntingly about the land, the plants and animals, the weather. He is clear-eyed about not idealizing farm work and does not shy away from the unpleasantnesses it can involve. It is kind of a cliche, but the setting really was like another character, the best-developed character in the whole thing, really.

Unfortunately, most of the human characters are not very well developed. Particularly within the farming families, the supplemental characters all blend into one another (except for a disturbed teen girl). This on its own would not be a huge problem, as I think it feeds into the theme that personal desires/will are unimportant or powerless in the face of larger forces, like "tradition" or an ancestral tie to the land. This notion is at the heart of the book, and I felt that Hurley was critiquing it fairly clearly throughout.

But the last 30-40 pages really muddied the water. (now some spoilers!! be warned) One of the main plot points deals with whether John's wife, Kat, will agree to give up her job and move to the farm. She repeatedly tells John that she has no intention of coming to live there. ("I don't give a shit about the farm.") Yet, lo and behold, there she is at the end, living on the farm, eating meat (she's a vegetarian), and incubating their second child. We jump ahead to this resolution, a driver of major conflict within the narrative, without any explanation or further discussion! What happened?

I feel like the author wants us to choose between 1) Kat changed her mind because she came to see that tradition was more important than personal desires [does not fit thematically with the rest of the book] or 2) Kat's rational nature was challenged by something unexplained she saw while lost on the moors that shifted the bedrock of her belief/sense of self [strongly implied but not warranted by prior character development]. A third sleeper option is that 3) Kat is possessed by the devil (that might explain her complete change in personality!). I think the author's desire for an ambiguous ending undermines his ability to build and develop a cohesive theme. Kat's reversal feels like a lazy deus ex machina, not a satisfying conundrum.

Also, I have a weird feeling that John murdered his son at the end of the book? It is not clear, but he encourages a 9-10 year old blind boy to jump into a freezing river, on the very spot where many years earlier John killed his childhood bully by drowning him. (If I've completely misunderstood what happened and a father and son just went skinny dipping together, I apologize. But a grim and horrible ending fits better with everything that went before than the apparently hopeful "resilience of the human spirit" type language of the last few paragraphs.)

I am very conflicted about this book. It frustrated me in some ways but showed incredible skill in others. I think I would probably try his other books in the future. ( )
  sansmerci | Oct 12, 2023 |
So, I'm probably the outlier here, as I have not yet read The Loney as yet. This is my first taste of Hurley.

As a horror novel, this is very quiet. Sleepily quiet. You'll learn about small, well-removed rural communities and the day-to-day of managing a farm...probably more than you want to...

...but here's the thing: Andrew Michael Hurley's prose is mesmerizing. Hypnotic. I listened to this on audio, and there were times where I just got lost in the story and had no idea where or how far I'd walked while I listened to the story.

The horror elements creep up on you silently, much like Jackson's Haunting of Hill House, so don't come in looking for screaming horrors that grab you by the throat. Hurley's horrors whisper, and just graze you with their fingertips.

Like others, however, there were hints to what the ending could be, but never was, and I found that a touch disappointing. I wasn't looking for a big bang ending—not from a book like this—but I did expect a bit more that I got.

But for all of that, a good read. ( )
  TobinElliott | Aug 13, 2023 |
I had read The Loney quite recently and enjoyed it very much so decided to give this book ago. I didn't enjoy it as much as The Loney but did like a lot about the book.

John and his pregnant wife Kat go to his childhood home for his grandad's funeral and to help with the gathering of the sheep from the hills for the winter.

The story is set in Lancashire and like The Loney is very descriptive about the area and the way of life and superstitions of the people who live and work on the farms. The story certainly has a bleakness to it and for me this was my favourite part of the story. The brilliant descriptions do give a sense of place and I can almost feel the heaviness.

The story is told in the present and flits to the past. It follows John and his time on the farm and what happens. Again like The Loney it has a strange custom, in this case Devils Day and again I get a Wicker Man feeling. This is something I also enjoyed about the book.

As much as I liked this story, it didn't quite grab me. I think because I enjoyed The Loney so much this book I felt this book wasn't as good. I also feel that perhaps I need to read something that isn't horror as I've read a few in the past month.

I would read more by this author in the future as I have a liking for folk horror, small communities with secrets and superstitions. ( )
  tina1969 | Nov 15, 2022 |
As far from the typical horror novel as you can get, Devil’s Day is an immersive slow burn of a book in its portrayal of life in a remote section of England, and it’s local holiday of keeping the Devil away from their sheep. There’s no gore or sudden shocks, just a slow unraveling of the book’s central secret. Gorgeous writing. I just loved this book. ( )
  luke66 | Oct 22, 2022 |
I enjoyed this one as I have Hurley's others; he's definitely got a grand talent for the English folk gothic tone. Much look forward to whatever he comes up with next. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 11, 2021 |
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The shepheards life was the first example of honest fellowship. -George Puttenham, Arte of the English Poesie
In the wink of an eye, as quick as a flea,
The Devil he jumped from me to then.
And only when the Devil had gone,
Did I know that he and I'd been one.
-An old Endlands rhyme
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One late October day, just over a century ago, the farmers of the Endlands went to gather their sheep from the moors as they did every autumn. Only this year, while the shepherds were pulling a pair of wayward lambs from a peat bog, the Devil killed one of the ewes and tore of her fleece to hide himself among the flock. -The Blizzard
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"In the wink of an eye, as quick as a flea, / The Devil he jumped from me to thee. / And only when the Devil had gone, / Did I know that he and I'd been one ... Every autumn, John Pentecost returns to the farm where he grew up, to help gather the sheep down from the moors for the winter. Very little changes in the Endlands, but this year, his grandfather--the Gaffer--has died and John's new wife, Katherine, is accompanying him for the first time. Each year, the Gaffer would redraw the boundary lines of the village, with pen and paper but also through the remembrance of tales and timeless communal rituals, which keep the sheep safe from the Devil. But as the farmers of the Endlands bury the Gaffer and prepare to gather the sheep, they begin to wonder whether they've let the Devil in after all."--

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