Said my lord to my lady, as he rode away: ‘Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the hay.’
‘let the doors be all bolted and the windows all pinned, And leave not a hole for a mouse to creep in.’”
For years the children of Bryers Guerdon have been warned against Long Lankin, the beast who attacks small children who find themselves in the local churchyard. The whole story is thought to be a legend, a myth, but the adults know there must be some element of truth to it; after all a member of the Guerdon family often disappears from Guerdon Hall. When Cora and Mimi turn up at Guerdon Hall to stay with their Auntie Ida they known nothing of the legend but when they are playing with local boys in the churchyard and the two girls see an old man watching over them Cora makes it her business to find out more about the strange place and the history of their family.
I’ve heard so many good things about Long Lankin, I’ve been meaning to read it for ages and so whilst I was away I glanced through my kindle books and saw it and realised that it was just what I was in the mood for! It started out good and interesting but this book just keeps getting better and better and its one I will recommend, though maybe not for the faint hearted!
I love ghost stories like this, a long history of what is suspected to be folklore, or myth, becoming reality on the pages in front of you is always good but they way the tension and atmosphere build up in Long Lankin is really great and whilst more of the scary stuff doesn’t come in until the last quarter of the book the rest is a brilliant mix of historical fiction and ghost story build up. I loved the setting of this book – 1958 – and the little snippets we get that are even further into the past. I loved the history of the myth surrounding Long Lankin and where the story appears to have stemmed from and you get a lot of that towards the beginning of the book, with the action rounding it all off perfectly.
A ghost story cannot be a great story without characters that you love and care for, and want to keep safe. Long Lankin sounded scary enough at first but because of the development and connection you get to Mimi the whole story becomes even scarier. At the end of the book my heart was beating faster than ever before and it was all because I loved the kids in this book like they were my best friends. I’d spent the summer with them and was transported back to when I was 10/1. I grew up in a little village which had its own ‘grand hall’ and that really helped with the imagery of Bryers Guerdon and Guerdon Hall too.
The whole book is split up into different persepctives. Mostly its told from Cora and Rogers point of view but occasionally Auntie Ida will chip in and those were some of my favourite passages. Throughout the different perspectives there are also stories told to the children from adults which really add to the overall feel of the book and bits of information that Cora and Roger find in records from people who have long isnce passed. This all adds to the atmosphere and the great development of the story and I adored it all.
The one thing I didn’t like about the book, which is going to sound pathetic probably, was that you were told Long Lankin went for smaller children, very small, under 4 kind of age, so I knew how old Mimi was but not Cora and Roger and that kept me wondering thinking of different ages, it doesn’t matter too much but I would have liked to know…
I must admit that if you are expecting just a ghost story then Long Lankin might not be for you. The creepy is there the whole way through but a lot of it is background and the first three quarters do occasionally feel like historical fiction more than anything else. I loved the book because I love the history and the supernatural elements and think that Barraclough really did well merging the two. I really urge people to read this one, but maybe not at night… or alone… or whilst sat in a cemetery!
Long Lankin was published in UK paperback version in January 2012 by Corgi Childrens books and will be published in the US by Candlewick Press on July 10th. My copy was obtained through Netgalley.