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.
I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Atmospheric, disturbing and poignant, ‘Starve Acre’, fuses the darkest human emotions with supernatural echoes. Richard and Juliette were hoping for an idyllic life in the country, although the place they chose had a dark history and little to recommend it. They lost their child Ewan, who before his death seemed haunted by dreams and voices, in the house and in the land that accompanied it.
The story is sad and sinister. You are undecided whether this is a journey into the dark and desperate grief of two bereaved parents. Or a haunting and possession, engineered by the dark echoes of the past residing in Starve Acre.
The setting and folklore woven into the story produce vivid imagery that evokes the horror unfolding. The desperation and the ways people cope with grief are explored, as is their vulnerability to manipulation and the dark paranormal forces drawn to such individuals.
The reader is left to put their interpretation on events but is left in no doubt that Juliette is in a dark place and may never return.