Published by Random House Children's Books
Challenge: BBC, DAC
Source: Review copy (bound manuscript)
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.
Long Lankin is a story about two sisters who are sent to their Great Aunt's to live. At first it seems like a story which is quite sad and a bit of a comment on the social situation the children have found themselves to be in, in the 1950s but as the story develops it becomes so much more. It is told in first person and the person narrating chops and changes through the story between the the main characters. I found it a little confusing at first but soon grasped all the differing characters in my head enough to keep up. It wouldn't be one of my reviews if I didn't say how much I loved the glimpse into the time period of the 1950s and how much everyday life contrasts with ours today.
I loved the voice of the main character Cora. I loved how she interacted with her younger sister and how she dealt with the new life she had been thrown into and loved following her as she began to unravel the mystery surrounding Long Lankin.
As the story progresses you start to get the idea that all is not well in the household and especially when Cora's great Aunt starts to behave and react to situations in peculiar ways. There are some really weird scenes where you are not sure if the main characters are seeing things or if they are actually there.
I was warned this book was creepy but really didn't think it would be that creepy from the first half. I was really enjoying it but not creeped out. However in the last 100 pages or so everything kicked off and it changed the whole tone of the book. It was definitely the creepiest YA I think I've ever read and totally unputdownable. I ended up laying in bed reading late into the night because I needed to know what happened (this is not advisable practice if you have a vivid imagination and want to be able to sleep afterwards). The scenes with Long Lankin himself in were really creepy and those final few scenes were incredibly fast paced and I ended the book in a semi stunned state about what had happened!
All in all an awesome debut novel from an author I am sure we will start to hear loads about in the future. An awesome host of characters and genuinely creepy read!