Saturday, October 20, 2012

Long Lankin

Long Lankin
by Lindsey Barraclough
Candlewick, 2012. 455 pgs. Young Adult

     Long Lankin is a fearsome British folk character, who with a conspiring nurse, crept into the manor and killed its lady. He was hung in a gibbet and the nurse burned at the stake. And what does this have to do with Cora and Mimi, sent to their great aunt Ida's by their slacker father? Long Lankin, caught between worlds, is still about and "lives" near the church by Aunt Ida's home, Guerdon Hall, the Guerdons cursed by the nurse as she died.   Ida herself has lost family to the monster, and forbids the children to go near the church or to stay in the house with any window open or the doors unbolted. Long Lankin  is a fine, atmospheric horror story. The suspense builds slowly and richly as the narrative is assembled from multiple points of view--Cora's, her friend Roger's, Aunt Ida herself, and a collection of old letters and clues near the graveyard itself.  Plus, there are other evidences:  a ghostly young woman in the attic, singing Long Lankin's ballad, sightings of a manlike creature with a terrible smell dragging himself through the grass, and the missing children in the graveyard, still themselves but barely. Recommended for older teens who will have the patience for the foundation to be laid and the fearsomeness to build to the breakneck conclusion, and for adults who like a great old-fashioned Halloween read.

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