Don't open the windows. Make sure the doors are locked. Never go to the old church. Every precaution and rule is set in place to keep them safe. What they don't know is why, or what happens when it's too late.
Cora and her younger sister Mimi have been sent to stay with their Aunt Ida, an unfavorable set up on both ends. Alone in the small village of Byers Guerdon, Aunt Ida is known by everyone, including a young boy named Roger who bumps into Cora and Mimi as they venture to their new home – Guerdon Hall. Upon their arrival, Aunt Ida is disapproving the moment she sets eyes on them. She wants them gone. Immediately.
Unable to see anything out of the ordinary, except for a creepy portrait hanging above the bathroom entrance, Cora and Mimi find Guerdon Hall rather bland. Until, one night, when the air becomes thick and the atmosphere tenses. Soon they discover that something is deeply wrong. Cora, Mimi, and the boys they befriend unravel a past that is slowly creeping up on one of their own. Is Aunt Ida as cruel as she is made out to be? Or is she protecting them from a dark being more powerful than they could ever imagine? Together, they must conquer an evil that has prevailed for centuries.
Long Lankin is the debut novel of Lindsey Barraclough and a strong one at that. I was pumped when I came across this book online. When I finally found Long Lankin at my local bookstore, I swear, there were tears of joy. It was to be my first real horror novel. However, it was not overwhelmingly good.
Barraclough's writing throughout the book was powerful but I could have done without the strenuous details. Certain components describing the separate towns and roads were tedious and should have been left out. That isn't to say there weren't details that worked well within the novel; my favorite being the description of the old church. I favor religious aspects as long as they aren't overbearing, rather serving as a minor setting or character quality.
I had read reviews previous to reading Long Lankin and unfortunately, those reviews were correct. The pacing is incredibly slow. It wasn't an enjoyable slow where I savored every moment, nor was it miserable. Along with the general slowness of the novel, I found that it slowed down during certain character perspectives. When Cora narrated, I followed in a daze. As the narration alternated to Roger, the pace decreased noticeably.
Fortunately, Roger had a compelling presence when he wasn't narrating. Other than Cora, I would choose Aunt Ida as a favorite. Yeah, she was kind of horrible, but it came from a place of genuine concern. Plus, her narration here and there spoke to me much more than that of Roger. Leading off of that, his mother was a fantastic secondary character, probably one of the better ones I've read.
Finally, we have Long Lankin himself. What intrigues and motivates people to pick up this book is the quote from the ballad used to anchor the entire story-line. The slow growing anticipation is unbearable. Creaking floorboards, ghostly apparitions, and old clues suggesting a deadly beast lurking about the real world and the after life. Those sound like fair reasons to get hyped about a book, when truly, they were mere tropes. Even with her own twists and turns, Barraclough can only cover up the tropes so well. I was disappointed with each encounter involving Lankin. He was creepy, not scary.
In the end, I had a difficult time deciding how to rate this book. There was nothing outstanding in terms of the stylistic choices but the writing was a wonderful representation of Lindsey Barraclough as a breakthrough author. I have no doubt that her future novels will be just as impressive. I understand that a lot of other book lovers enjoyed reading this, so I recommend it, but whatever you do, beware of Long Lankin that lives in the hay.
3.75 out of 5 stars
3.75 out of 5 stars