Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Published by Corgi Childrens
5th January 2012
Beware of Long Lankin . . .
When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their great-aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they sense immediately that they're not welcome. What they don't know is that the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, their visit ended in a mysterious, violent tragedy.
Something dark and evil has haunted the village for centuries. Now it has set eyes on its next victim, and it will stop at nothing to lay claim to her. With the help of local schoolboys Roger and Peter, Cora must uncover the horrifying secrets buried deep within Bryers Guerdon - before it is too late for Mimi.
This is the debut novel by Lindsey Barraclough and I was very pleased to get my hands on a copy. I was, however, warned not to read it at bedtime, which as it is my main reading time meant I didn't finish it as quickly as I would have liked. However, there probably was good reason for this advice! Based on the ballad Long Lankin, this is definitely a creepy tale.
Cora and Mimi are from the East End of London and have been sent by their father to live with their great-aunt Ida miles away from home to the village of Bryers Guerdon. Set in the 1950s this is a great period for setting a children's book, especially when most entertainment was based around outside play. Cora and Mimi soon settle in to the village, though their aunt clearly doesn't want them around, and they make friends with local brothers Roger and Peter. Despite being warned not to go down to the church to play, they soon break this rule and head on down there. Why aren't they meant to be there, and why won't Ida tell them what is going on?
Cora and Roger are inquisitive children and soon try to find out what the grown-ups have kept quiet for so long. They soon discover that children are not always welcome in Bryers Guerdon, for the village has a habit of losing it's youngsters. Can this be why the windows and doors of Guerdon Hall are always securely fastenened? Then Cora starts to hear and see things that she can't explain, and suddenly protecting Mimi from an unknown force becomes her main concern.
I really enjoyed this book, and yes, it is spooky. It's rather long, being almost 500 pages in length, so does take some time to read but I liked the fact that the story is told in first person narratives by each of the characters which helps to maintain the pace. The story is very visual too which I loved, and it certainly helps to add to the atmosphere that Lindsey Barraclough has created. The sequel The Mark of Cain is out now, and I think it'll have to be added to my tbr pile!