I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Long Lankin Series: Long Lankin #1
Published by Candlewick Press on July 10, 2012
When Cora and her little sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their great-aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Idas life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces arrival has reawakened an evil that has lain in wait for years. A haunting voice in an empty room; a strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard; mysterious words scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church . . . all point to a horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries, a truth that Cora, along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, must uncover before its too late for Mimi. A compelling, atmospheric novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft, and revenge, Long Lankin is a truly stunning debut from an exciting new writer.
‘Everything was all right until they came.’
When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to live with their Great-Aunt Ida, it is clear from the start that they are neither wanted nor welcome in her house. For the time being the children must stay with her but she immediately sends word to their father that he must come get them, and he must come get them now. Cora, intrigued by the mysteries of the house despite their Aunt Ida’s constant demands to ‘not do this’ and ‘not do that’, begins searching the house and the closely residing and equally mysterious church. Cora gleans information from various papers found in the house, from the local neighbors, and from strange carvings like the words ‘Cave Bestiam’ which is found in several locations. Cora finds out more than she bargained for: that her and her family are intertwined in the mystery, that no one is safe, and that there really is something very real to fear.
I found the writing to be quite gripping and reminded me at times of Susan Hill’s writing in The Woman in Black. I’ve read several books that write using multiple different points of view and they’re not always done as well as could be. I believe it takes a talented author in order to make a multi-point-of-view story not seem too terribly overwhelming; this is definitely one of them. The main focus is on Cora and Roger but you occasionally get an unsettling view of Cora’s Aunt Ida and the occasional glimpse into past events.
Okay, so, I’ll admit it. I refused to read this alone. I also required a lot of sunlight. And yes, I’m a big weenie. It wasn’t exactly creepy the entire time though. It was a bit like riding a wave, honestly. The book would lead up to a scene that would have you trembling in your boots and then everything would suddenly relax again and you’d be lulled into a false sense of calm before the next swell. Then the monster under the bed would jump right back out. Okay, comparing Long Lankin to the monster under the bed makes him sound like one of those monsters from Monsters Inc. Long Lankin… was not cute, fuzzy, or funny. Long Lankin was one scary mo-fo that I hope I never have a chance encounter with in a dark alley. Or in my bedroom. (Mental to-do list: nail windows shut before bed).
Cora was quite a spirited little girl and didn’t run in fear of anything, including Long Lankin on a few occasions. Cora? Pretty much my hero. She was an awesome big sister who didn’t shrink in fear of anything when it came to saving her little sister Mimi. Now Roger… Roger was damn adorable and the frosting on the cake/story. I loved how the occasional funny lines from Roger that were thrown in managed to lighten the overall tension that the story exudes.
So the ending lost a star for the overall rating because I can’t help but feel that the ending left a bit to be desired. Predictable is the word that primarily comes to mind. I would have loved some cool crazy twist to it or have some rabid monkey show up (okay, maybe not a monkey… a lion?) Anyways, it seemed far too expected and I kind of sighed in disappointment when I was done. Still have plans to nail windows shut though.