Said my lord to my lady, as he mounted his horse:‘Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the moss.’
Long Lankin Lindsey Barraclough
This one is long over due. It’s sad, but besides two more posts, I will be basically caught up on reviewing all the books I’ve read since summer. It’s not that I haven’t had time to read since university started, but that it took a lot longer than I thought to set up a local library card. And the selection was…low. I’ve got a lot on hold, and there are also some fantastic books coming out in the coming months that I have rationed my Nook gift card for so at least we have that to look forward to. In the meantime, let’s talk about Long Lankin.
A summary: Cora (our main character) and her little sister Mimi are dropped off in the countryside to live with their elderly Aunt Ida who is, to say the least, not happy to see them. Auntie Ida has her reasons for her displeasure– last time two young girls came to visit her, dark events came to pass, and the appearance of Cora and Mimi threatens to awaken that evil. With the help of Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must unravel the secrets of the past in time to save her sister from the clutches of Long Lankin.
In my humble opinion, it is very difficult to make a book scary. You don’t have music, or visuals. I think it’s much more difficult to build anticipation with words. But when well executed, the result can be, well, astounding. I’m easily scared, I’ll admit that. But this book was one of the most terrifying things I have ever read in my life. It was deeply, bone-chillingly haunting.
Half the reason for this was the excellent development of Long Lankin, our source of terror. So there’s this horrific poem from olden times that tells of a murderer, Lankin, who sought to revitalize his body with the blood of an infant. Barraclough took this little known tale and wove it into Cora’s story, adding on some 400 years of history surrounding Lankin. There was a lot of material to explore here and the author revealed it all so very slowly, keeping the anticipation ripe and the tension high. I was so very curious about Lankin’s back story because I think that’s what makes a villain truly terrifying, when they’re so well-developed, they seem real.
The sweet fear of wanting to know more about Lankin tangled with the mystery and desperation of Cora’s situation. There’s some dramatic irony here; from the poem, you know sort of what Lankin is and that Mimi, the younger sister, is in danger because Lankin feeds of children. So there’s tension knowing that Cora’s stubbornness could land them in some serious trouble. Yet at the same time, you are very much in the dark because this evil creature isn’t fully revealed; it’s done tantalizingly slow. A glimpse here, a shadow under the window. A rustle in the dark. So you know what’s out there. You know what it wants. But you don’t know how it got to be, what it’s going to do next, and more terrifyingly, how it– and even if– it can be defeated.
In this way, I found myself totally engaged in Cora’s story. Lots of eager page flipping and honestly, I couldn’t sleep while I was reading this. Mostly because when Lankin is fully described, it’s so utterly human and creepy that you just can’t help but jump at every sound, every tap at the window.
Apart from mastering the art of instilling fear into the reader, the story has a great plot. I mean this is a lot of build up that goes somewhere. It’s an original story, from beginning to end. There were twists and turns and solutions I would have never thought of. At no point did I figure out what was going to happen next, which is so very rare an instance these days.
The writing was excellent. Moody, atmospheric, engaging. While Cora is the main character and usually the narrator, other characters also take over the point of view, which injects a certain depth into the story: you learn about the little details of the side characters and this odd little town. Each character definitely had personality and voice. Sure, I got frustrated with some of the character’s actions, but the way that makes you fist pump the air, like aww yeah character development!
I have to say I especially liked the relationships between Corra, Mimi, Roger, and Peter. They acted and thought like children, in that weird wise and stupid, brave and fearful place that kids seem to embody. They would fight and tease each other and they ran around and I guess there was just something in the way they talked and interacted with each other that really brought them to life in my head. I have a very clear vision of what they look like and how their voices would sound, as if I had watched a movie, despite the book not really going into detail about these things. They came across very naturally.
The ending for this book was great. I don’t want to give anything away, but let me tell you that there was no slow part, from beginning to end. It’s a longer read, but it kind of sneaks up on you and wraps you up and at some point you’ll look up and realize that it’s past midnight and you have to make that long walk up the dark stairway by yourself and you’re so invested in the story and it’s all so real to you that you the thought of going upstairs on your own is the absolutely most terrifying thing.
What? That was just me?
Well, my point is I read this book during the summer when it was hot and sunny, and it was great, but guys, it’s winter and how great would a story like this would be when the trees are bare and the nights are cold and long? Lemme tell you, it’d be awesome.
0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…
1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.
2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.
3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.
4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).
5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.
6 and above. What I want my book to be.