Monday, January 21, 2013

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough: A Creepy Classic

Long Lankin is one of the eeriest, creepiest, stay up late and finish it books the Recommender has read recently. It is wonderfully written and realized and the characters are plucky, brave and downright heroic. The book begins with a frightening English ballad that introduces a couple of characters who we will learn about as the story unfolds. We then meet two little sisters who have been sent from London to stay with their Aunt Ida and little do they realize what awaits them in the rural English countryside of Byers Guerdon.
Cora, the older sister, has looked out for Mimi most of her life. Their mother has gone away someplace and their handsome Dad has to try and earn a living without worrying about the girls. He corrals a friend to drive them to the country where he unceremoniously dumps them at the end of the road to their Aunt's house so he doesn't get his car stuck. They make their way up the muddy road and come across two boys sitting on a fence.
These boys, Roger, the older one and Pete his younger brother will become their comrades over the course of the summer.
Aunt Ida, on the other hand, is cold and not exactly welcoming. She lives in an old estate called Guerdon Hall with a scary carved baby's head over the door. She immediately plans their return to their father and warns them about exploring the house and the grounds.  They are not to open a door or a window, though the house is stifling in the very hot summer. Beyond the bathroom is a horrifyingly huge portrait of a man pointing at them. What can it all mean?  The next morning Aunt Ida sends the girls to the village to post the letter to their father. They are not to stay in the house.  And, whatever happens they are NOT to go into an old church, under ANY circumstances. On their way to town they meet up with Roger and Pete who suggest they have a look at the church. Cora is game though Mimi is reluctant, but not willing to be left behind. There's a creepy tree outside the church, the Gypsy tree, with old children's shoes and doll's heads scattered and nailed among its branches. If you think the tree is scary... then, wait till you get a look inside the church! Be sure to get a copy of this remarkable debut novel and learn all the secrets of Guerdon Hall and what lies beyond its gates. The story is told from the perspectives of Cora, Aunt Ida and Roger. The children are wonderfully engaging. Pete and Roger's family, complete with a mad mix of siblings a patient and caring Mom and an affable Dad are people you enjoy spending literary time with. Most of all, you will take Mimi and Cora to heart as these two brave girls make the best of things in the face of an unknown, pervasive evil.

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