Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Long Lankin, Lindsey Barraclough

Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books
Pages: 448
Release: April 2011
Source: E - book bought by me

A chilling, beautiful debut novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft and revenge. Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss ...When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their elderly 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 Ida's life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces' arrival has reawoken an evil that has lain waiting for years. A haunting voice in an empty room ...A strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard ...A mysterious warning, scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church ...Along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries - before it is too late for Mimi. Intensely atmospheric and truly compelling, this is a stunning debut.

Unused potensial

I like the idea of basing a novel upon a scary folk song, but this novel is unfortunatly not that scary.

The year is 1959. Cora and Mimi are sisters, and are spending the summer at their aunts place in an old village. They soon discover that they are not welcome here, and their aunts wants them to leave. Her house is not that friendly either. The stairs creak at night, there are chilling paintings on the walls, and the house appears to be haunted. Cora and Mimi get to know two local boys, Roger and Peter, and together they discover something scary on the cemetery. They discover that the village is home to something very special...

I first heard of Long Lankin when I was at the London Book Fair in April this year. The publishers said that it was one of their best titles this spring, and it was supposed to be very, very scary. That triggered my curiosity, and back at my hotelroom I bought the kindle version of the book.

The book starts with the old folk song Barraclough based her story on. A scary song, that is not sutable for the youngest kids:

So he pricked him, he pricked him all over with a pin,
And the nurse held the basin for the blood to flow in

Then th story continues with Cora and Mimi, who are on their way to their aunt. We are told, through Cora's eyes, that they are poor.

The perspective in the book changes between the main characters. Sometimes I liked this, because it made the story progress more rapidly. Other times I found it tiresome. But my main objection about this book is that I didn't find it scary. There is too much time passing before anything thrilling happens, the first 200 pages were a bit slow. I was constantly waiting for something to happen. And when the story really takes off, there is too much going on at once.

There is no question that Barraclough knows how to write a scary story, when we eventually gets to the scarier parts. Those pages would have scared me when I was a child. Maybe the book would have been better if it had been shorter.

I am going to read the next book from this author, but Long Lankin didn't quite do it for me.

Other reviews:
Cively Loves Books
Book Chick City
Writing from the tub

Lindsey Barraclough on Goodreads

The Booktrailer:

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