Candlewick Press (June 2012)
Rating: PG-13 (for potentially scary content for some readers)
Coffee Beans: 5/5
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.
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.
I’m never waiting this long to write a review for a book I love again. It was so good I thought I’d always remember about its detailed awesomeness, but I was wrong. Life intervened and I forgot most of what made this book great except for the blinding fact that it is great.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hardly ever get scared reading books. I’m more of a visual person when it comes to being scared. But Long Lankin broke that curse. I can’t even tell you how many times that book gave me goose bumps and just that all over creepy feeling. This is one of those books that I will recommend to everyone I come in contact with and it’s one that will be added to The Shelf.
The story is told from the point of view of three different people: Cora, Roger, and Aunt Ida. Each adding different pieces of the puzzle to the eerie tale of Long Lankin and the old church in the Marshes. The point of view is mostly from Cora, with Roger coming up as a close second. Aunt Ida’s voice only makes an appearance when some especially creepy revelation needs to be made. But with all of these characters, even the ones whose voices we don’t hear, the reader is given a good, round sense of who they are and what they’re like as people.
The setting is also what makes this story. 1940’s English countryside in a small town filled with small-minded people. A haunted church that’s half sunk into the marshes, ghostly children, a scary painting, doors and windows sealed shut (let me tell you, while I was reading this, all the doors and windows in our house were shut tight), a crazy aunt, witches…the list goes on.
Be prepared for this, though: It’s a long book, and a heavy book. At 450 pages, don’t expect to just breeze through it. There’s a lot of history, names, events, etc that need to be kept track of. Half the time I felt like I needed to be taking notes to keep everything straight and to make sure I got the full impact of the storytelling.
But it was worth it. I will for sure be reading this again.