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Starve Acre

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,309 ratings  ·  936 reviews
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 bo
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 31st 2019 by John Murray (first published October 2019)
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Andrew Michael Hurley has a real gift for the gothic style, horror tinged, atmospheric storytelling that immerses the reader here in a chillingly dark and disturbing world. He draws on his trademark themes of history, superstitions and folklore in a ominous narrative that goes back and forth in time. The Willoughbys have relocated to the rural Yorkshire Dales to an inherited home, Starve Acre, a name that certainly doesn't inspire comforting heartwarming pictures. For Richard and Juliette as par ...more
Peter (catching up)
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, horror
Starve Acre is a folk horror tale, full of menace and fuelled by guilt. Richard and Juliette Willoughby, and their young son Ewan moved to Richard’s family home in the Yorkshire Dales following the death of his parents. The house known as Starve Acre has unhappy memories for Richard as he recalls his father’s mental breakdown. The unfriendliness of the house and the surrounding fields haven’t changed and the main field that folklore tells of homing the legendary Stythwaite Oak sees nothin
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starve Acre was a perfect read for this time of year.
The story is woven around a folk tale of a tree that was used for hangings hundreds of years ago and which possibly made the soil barren around Starve Acre, a house that has belonged to the Willoughbys for generations. The house now belongs to a couple, Juliette and Richard, who grieve after the death of their five-year-old son. The theme sounds simple, however, everything that surrounds the house and the fields around it is not. In the course
Nov 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
Gorgeous cover art of a giant tree with a hangman's noose makes Starve Acre a beautiful, little book to behold. It is just as chilling and absorbing and lovingly written on the inside. I felt I could see the house, the dead wood, and where the digging was taking place. The cold seemed to seep into your bones. This author has a real gift for imagery.

The story is a dreary one, a couple has lost their young son. Ewan died at five years old, worse even than this, his memory is benighted by the boy's
In a manner of speaking, I'd already read Starve Acre. A novella of the same title, published under the pseudonym Jonathan Buckley, was issued as part of the Eden Book Society series earlier this year. I loved it (you can read my review here). But this new version promised an expanded take on the themes of the novella, plus a different ending, so I was still excited to (re?)read it.

Richard and Juliette Willoughby are in mourning for their young son, Ewan. In the aftermath of his death, their wor
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book in two sittings. Combining a troubled family with a property possessing a nefarious history, this book is impossible to put down until the final unsettling pages. A fast and ominously intense read.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having really enjoyed The Loney and Devils Day I was really pleased to receive this ARC and I was not disappointed. From the opening sentences with the beautiful winter descriptions of Croftendale in the Yorkshire Dales right through to the mind blowing ending I was hooked. This is the story of Richard, Juliette and Ewan Willoughby and their home Starve Acre. It is a story of grief, guilt and sorrow following the death of young Ewan, it encompasses local legends, superstitions, magic and beliefs ...more
Oct 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully atmospheric folk horror tale that instantly hooked me from the first page.

We know from the outset that something tragic has happened to Richard and Juliette's five year old son Ewan.

The narrative cleverly converges two timelines as the reader follows the family who's recently moved into a house on the Moors, whilst the manner in which both parents come to terms with the sudden death of their son.

The tension really builds especially as we learn that Ewans behaviour had started to beco
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
This is a book to devour. The writing is exquisite, the characters are indepth, the bleak end of Winter scenery on the quiet moor heartbreakingly beautiful.

Richard and Juliette have recently lost their young child and are each grieving in their own way. Richard hides on the moor, Juliette in her deceased son's bedroom. They grow further apart each day.
An occult healing session turns their world upside down.

Starve Acre is a story with few characters, traveling at a slow but very pleasant pace, g
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 or ...more
Ivana - Diary of Difference
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Reading Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley was a unique reading experience for me. Starting right after Halloween, it was the perfect eerie continuation of the spooky reading mood. Thank you to the teams at Tandem Collective and John Murray Press, for sending me a gifted copy of this book.


The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, the
Kayla Jefferson
This has to be the most weirdest book i have ever read. I didn’t really know what was going on other than the couple had a son who died. Nothing is really explained. How and why did Ewan die, what the hell is the hare? Left more questions with no answers
Nancy Oakes
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Willoughby took over his parents' farmhouse, Starve Acre, so he and his wife Juliette could start a family, but they have always been regarded as outsiders by the villagers of Stythwaite. Now, their son Ewan is dead and Juliette, mired in grief and depression, is a shadow of her former self. Richard has been coping by throwing himself into work – he's a university lecturer – but eventually he's forced to take some leave. In the absence of other distractions, Richard begins methodically d ...more
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed Andrew Michael Hurley’s previous novels, “The Loney,” and “Devil’s Day,” I was excited to read his latest work. “Starve Acre,” is a novella length story, set in a similar, bleak countryside setting, as his previous books. Dr Richard Willoughby, a university professor, inherits his family home – the starkly named, ‘Starve Acre,’ and moves there – a little against his better judgement – with wife Juliette. Their son, Ewan, is much wanted by Juliette, who adores the boy. However, Ric ...more
Jul 13, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Cover by Daren Hopes
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: This is a review of the The Eden Book Society edition, released under the pseudonymn Jonathan Buckley.

"Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."

As I made my way through Starve Acre, I could not help but notice the strong similarities between the initial conceit and that of the movie Wake Wood, a movie I greatly enjoyed. But the copyright on this edition read 1972, claiming that the book was originally published in that year and re-released by a reincarnated Eden Book Society
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I have read both this author’s previous books and been impressed by his skills at conjuring atmosphere. He gives us more of the same here with a setting on the Yorkshire moors in an isolated farmhouse and its adjacent field, the focus of local superstition and a grisly history. The tension is heightened by the family’s own recent history and the tragic loss of their 5-year-old son. The circumstances of his death are unclear for most of the book. The events leading up to it, though, and the child ...more
Zuky the BookBum
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 4-stars, 2020
I love this authors work, it's the type of horror that is so subtle, almost imperceptible, and then you realise you're backed into a corner, suddenly trapped and terrified. ⁠

This book is a folk horror look at grief and explores the idea that while nature can appear to be welcoming and a safe haven, it can also reflect back at you the death and cruelty it holds and has witnessed.⁠

This is a really slow moving novel, but it keeps you glued to it's pages as it unravels the past alongside the prese
Dec 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
If you like gothic stories, with a bit of supernatural, this is the book for you. Andrew Michael Harris is the author for you.
Unfortunately, I don't like these types of books - and movies - even if I keep trying at least once a year. The more I try, the less I archive but this won't stop me.
So here I am, one more time, trying to explain why you shouldn't hate this story.

Saying it’s quite disturbing won't actually explain how I feel about it, but it comes closer. Is it disturbing in a positive
Roman Clodia
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Hurley controls his pace well in this folk-horror novella, and there's a nice contrast between his elegant diction and the visceral violence in some of the scenes ~ yet I somehow find his work underwhelming, perhaps because the tropes are so well-established in the genre: the city outsiders falling foul of country knowledge and superstitions, the malevolent bogeyman who seems to possess young men, the child who hears things that adults don't and who commits acts of evil...

All of this is overlay
Fiona MacDonald
Another book that I have heard so many great things about, but it seemed like I completely missed the point of the story. Hurley's writing is very lyrical, and there are some gorgeous descriptions of 'Starve Acre' - the eerie but beautifully rustic house that Richard and Juliette have moved to with hopes of giving their young son Ewan a country upbringing after being cooped up in Leeds. But tragically, Ewan dies and the couple slowly start to unravel, even more so when Juliette's sister Harrie a ...more
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, creepy and atmospheric tale of grief and guilt, set in the Yorkshire Dales. Andrew Michael Hurley is so good at setting the scene, I loved the sense of place, it was so well described I could almost see it and it went well with the sense of inevitable doom hanging in the air. The only thing that rankled was level headed realist Richard's casual acceptance of an undeniably supernatural and abnormal occurrence, all the while poo pooing his wife's experiences, it didn't seem to ...more
A few weeks back, cult horror writer Andrew Michael Hurley announced the forthcoming publication of his third novel: “Starve Acre”. It is, he revealed, a work “very much in the folk horror tradition”, about “how grief strips the world into two”. Its 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 becomes o ...more
Sean Hawker
Jul 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Not been disappointed by Andrew Michael Hurley yet. Highly recommended.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This book plays on the very real fear parents have that their child might turn out to be cruel, that their child might hurt others for fun, that their child might (view spoiler) I think some of what Hurley was trying to do got lost in the shuffle because he throws a lot of different elements into the pot - possibly fraudulent spiritualist, queer-coded neighbor (were his "lodgers" supposed to be his lovers? I've ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was absolutely and utterly disturbing. I still have some questions that felt like they needed clearing up, but overall, this was so well written and stunningly crafted. It was dark, eerie, atmospheric, gloomy and - although it felt a bit too slow-burning at times - I really enjoyed it in the end. It took me a while to get through the first half, but the second half really pulled me in and pulled it from a two or three-star, to a four-star book. This book, and especially it's ending, is not ...more
Andy Weston
I’m disappointed by this. I’ve read quite a bit of folk horror recently and the best of it has been original and compelling, this is neither.
It’s pretty typical fare as British ghost stories go these days; a couple grieving after their recently deceased young child, having not long ago moved into an isolated house in a Yorkshire Dale in which the husband’s father had died.
Intriguing though is that two novels called Starve Acre have been published within 6 months of each other by two differen
I'm not sure if this is representative of Hurley's work or suffers from having been dashed off in the wake of his growing popularity, either way it really didn't work for me. I made it about a third of the way through, through gritted teeth, then leafed through the rest. The ending deliberately, or perhaps inadvertently, seems to echo aspects of the closing scenes of The Grapes of Wrath, not sure which, whatever the case it was profoundly irritating. The easiest, and I admit laziest, way to desc ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read Hurley's first novel "The Loney" some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. This one is quite good as well, and shares Hurley's seeming affection for slow-building atmosphere and desolate locales. This too is another slow-burn with a mood of grief, mental illness, anticipation and shivery winter. It recalls most English ghost stories -- a country house, a séance and a ghost(?) with a touch of folk-horror.

The story centers around a couple who are mourning their son Ewan who died unexpectedl
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Andrew Michael Hurley (born 1975) is a British writer whose debut novel, The Loney, was published in a limited edition of 278 copies on 1 October 2014 by Tartarus Press[ and was published under Hodder and Stoughton's John Murray imprint in 2015. ...more

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