Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

Just finished reading Long Lankin.  This is a really good book and an excellent debut.  The story starts with Cora and Mimi (real name Elizabeth but called Mimi because she’s always saying ‘me, me’ – how cute is that?).  The girls are both taken to stay with their Aunt Ida who lives in a very old, rambling and run down property in the heart of the country in the village of Bryers Guerdon.  Their aunt is less than pleased to see them and tries unsuccessfully to return them to their father.  Aunt Ida lives an isolated life at the Hall, her life was shattered the last time she looked after two young girls and in fact all the Guerdons have led a cursed life and the arrival of the two young girls is about to wake up an evil that has lain dormant for the past few years!

This was a good read with an intriguing story.  It’s set in the 50s and I really enjoyed the feel of it and the voices of the children.  At first I thought that maybe it would be too young a read but in actual fact it’s definitely YA and upwards.  We are given the story in the voices of Cora, Roger (one of the friends that the girls make) and Aunt Ida and I thought it was really good having the three different voices – Cora – who is really inquisitive (not to mention a bit more daring than I would have been – creeping around in the house on her own at night), Roger – whose voice allows us to see a different element of things such as some of the other villager’s perspective and Aunt Ida – and hearing her voice allows you to understand her fear for the girls and see that she isn’t simply being mean but has real cause for concern.

The story gradually unfolds and there is quite a history going back through the years but the pages turn pretty quickly and there are quite a few hair raising moments from fairly early on (rustling skirts, hearing voices, etc).

The sense of foreboding is steadily increased and telling the story through the voices of children particularly increases this as their own imaginations, quite good by themselves anyway, have been fuelled by the storytelling of the villagers and increased by the fear and paranoia of their parents (not to mention the things that remain unspoken, the secrets, hushed voices and conversations abruptly stopped mid sentence when one of the children enters the scene).

I’m not going to go too deeply into the story as it will spoil the plot.  Basically we have an incredibly creepy, dark, old house which is slowly being sucked into the marshes, an evil entity that has been awoken by the arrival of the children and a village in denial about the creepy things that have occured under their own noses.  Added to that is the country setting, brooding weather and old church and graveyard which has been practically abandoned by all the locals.  The only criticism I could make is that I think it could probably have been shortened slightly – although I read it very quickly and the pages seemed to turn themselves.

I must admit that I didn’t really think that this book would scare me particularly (pretty arrogant really) but then I’ve watched my fair share of horror movies.  However, having sat up by myself late last night in order to finish I will confess that (1) I was overcome by a horrible feeling of somebody watching me through the window (and let me say I shut the curtains pretty sharpish) (2) being the last one up I had to switch the lights off and rather foolishly I turned the lamps off and then had to walk through the room in the dark (shivers) – I shut the door  prerry sharpish as well and (3) I practically bolted up the stairs – there really is nothing like being the last one up late at night after you’ve read something scary!  So, next time I read a review by a reviewer who says don’t read this book by yourself at night – perhaps I’ll listen.  Although, no I probably won’t!!  Too stubborn.

Give this a read – and don’t sit and read it by yourself late at night!  You’ve been warned.

Long Lankin

Long Lankin

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