Long Lankin

Overview

In an exquisitely chilling debut novel, four children unravel the mystery of a family curse — and a ghostly creature known in folklore as Long Lankin.

When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less-than-warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don’t know is that their aunt’s life was devastated the last time two ...

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Long Lankin

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Overview

In an exquisitely chilling debut novel, four children unravel the mystery of a family curse — and a ghostly creature known in folklore as Long Lankin.

When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less-than-warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don’t know is that their aunt’s life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries — before it’s too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This atmospheric, pulse-pounding debut makes the most of its rural, post–World War II setting, a time and place where folklore uneasily informs reality. Barraclough controls her narrative with authority, shifting voices and tenses to provide both perspective and the occasional welcome respite from tension. . .A good, old-fashioned literary horror tale for sophisticated readers.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This debut horror story set in Britain during the late 1940s starts slowly but weaves a chilling spell that will immerse readers in this world and hold them through to the breathless conclusion. . . .A spine-tingling selection.
—School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Something's wrong with Cora and Mimi's mother, so their father sends them to live with their Aunt Ida, and she is none too happy when they arrive. Guerdon Hall, the sisters' temporary home, is immense, dark, and terrifying, both to them and to Aunt Ida. First published in the U.K., Barraclough's debut, which is based on a centuries-old British ballad, is a ghost story through and through, chock-full of mysterious apparitions, strange voices, cryptic warnings, and townsfolk who chorus beware, all of which frighten Cora and her new friend, a local boy named Roger, and compel them to uncover the mystery hovering over Guerdon Hall. Told in alternating first-person narratives belonging to Cora, Roger, and Aunt Ida, Barraclough's prose is often poetic; while beautiful, it also makes this strange story dense and initially difficult to access. Readers will likely get a sense of where the story is headed early on, but uncovering the complicated, sad history of Ida's life and the ways in which Cora and Mimi have become tangled in its legacy will compel them to its finish. Ages 12–up. (July)
Children's Literature - Jody Little
When Cora and her little sister, Mimi, arrive at their Aunt's Ida's home in the remote village of Bryers Guerdon, they have no idea what frightening mysteries await them. Aunt Ida is strangely nervous about the girls being in her home, and she contacts their father to pick them up immediately. Cora finds a creepy picture on the wall and she hears a voice chanting a song. When the girls befriend some neighbors, Roger and Pete, they begin to explore the nearby church and graveyard, even though they have been forbidden to be there. As more dark and eerie things begin to happen, Cora and Roger realize that Aunt Ida is hiding secrets from them, secrets of past happenings in the village. They set out to find answers about the ghost-like children in the graveyard, the sign that reads "Cave Bestiam" and the cursed spirit known as Long Lankin, who is said to straddle the plane between the living and dead, feasting on small children. The story's climax is frightening and disturbing as multiple characters come together to free Bryers Guerdon from the evil Long Lankin. Inspired by a haunting folk tale about murder, and written in multiple points of view, this novel is dark and complex. Some readers may struggle to understand the back story and interwoven pasts of the characters. Reviewer: Jody Little
VOYA - Donna Miller
Two sisters, one of them quite young; two curious village boys; an elderly aunt forced to foster the sisters despite her objections; an isolated, English village; and an unspeakable evil force, lurking in an ancient graveyard, waiting to devour its next, young victim—these plot elements meld into a dark, suspenseful debut novel that will captivate fans of the macabre. The town of Bryers Guerdon lies in a kind of suspended animation until a new female child awakens the creature and his (Long Lankin's) insatiable thirst for human life. When Lily and her little sister, Cora, are sent by their father to live with Auntie Ida, an age-old curse comes back to life. Not only is Ida's creepy family home haunted with a previous victim's spirit but the entire village is under the grip of Long Lankin, an evil force so powerful that no one has been able to destroy him, despite numerous attempts. Cora will shortly become the next victim unless someone can break the grip of this evil force and return the village and its inhabitants to a safe, peaceful existence. As Lily, accompanied by Roger and Peter, attempts to uncover the secrets of the past in an effort to protect Cora, Ida continues to keep the girls secluded, not realizing that this makes them more vulnerable than ever to this horrible creature. Although Briticisms may be off-putting for some, this title is a winner for young horror aficionados. Reviewer: Donna Miller
School Library Journal
Gr 5–10—Children have gone missing for centuries in Byers Guerdon, and rumors of a dark curse and a ravenous evil haunt those who choose to remain there. When 12-year-old Cora and her little sister, Mimi, are sent to live with their elderly aunt in Guerdon Hall, their only wish is to go home and have nothing more to do with creepy old houses and secretive adults. Then, they meet two of the village boys and explore places best left alone, awakening a monster and resurrecting the nightmare once more. Can Cora save her sister from the clutches of Long Lankin and end the curse once and for all? This debut horror story set in Britain during the late 1940s starts slowly but weaves a chilling spell that will immerse readers in this world and hold them through to the breathless conclusion. With densely packed writing and a heavy dose of historical slang and colloquialisms unfamiliar to North American readers, this is a story for sophisticated readers who enjoy a good scare. Fans of Clare B. Dunkle's atmospheric horror stories such as By These Ten Bones (2005) and House of Dead Maids (2010, both Holt) are likely to enjoy this spine-tingling selection.—Stephanie Whelan, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A thoroughly terrifying, centuries-old monster stalks two children sent from London to stay with their great-aunt in the country. Cora and little sister Mimi's Auntie Ida could hardly be less welcoming when they show up at her door, sent by their father while their Mum, always prone to "funny moods," is away--again. They must keep the windows and doors locked, even though the crumbling old house is steaming in the summer heat. They mustn't explore in the house, or go down to the marshes, or--especially--go down to the old church. Roger and his brother Pete, local boys, are also forbidden to go there, but when the four children fall in together, down to the church they go--and wake up Long Lankin. He likes them young. This atmospheric, pulse-pounding debut makes the most of its rural, post–World War II setting, a time and place where folklore uneasily informs reality. Barraclough controls her narrative with authority, shifting voices and tenses to provide both perspective and the occasional welcome respite from tension. The actual threat remains mostly unknown for almost the first half of the book, evident mostly in the long scratches by the door, the fetid stench of the church, the secretiveness of the villagers and, overwhelmingly, Auntie Ida's frank terror. If some of the historical exposition comes very conveniently, readers won't care--they will be too busy flipping the pages as Long Lankin closes in. A good, old-fashioned literary horror tale for sophisticated readers. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763669379
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 7/8/2014
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,274,955
  • Age range: 12 years

Meet the Author

Lindsey Barraclough was born in Essex, England, and has worked as a music teacher. Long Lankin is her first novel. She lives in London.

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