Summary from Amazon:
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.
This book came out of nowhere and took me completely by surprise. Rich, eerie and thrilling, the story overtakes your senses... and makes you regularly turn around to check if your window is still closed.
Cora and Mimi are being sent to live with their Auntie Ida after their mother leaves home and their father can't take care of them by himself. They arrive in the very isolated village of Bryers Guerdon and on one side make friends with local boys Roger and Pete but on the other receive a rather cold welcome from their Aunt. Slowly, Cora realises that their arrival has awakened an evil presence in the marshes. An evil presence which is irresistibly attracted to Mimi.
The book is set in a Sleepy Hollow-esque small village in the English countryside. The life and the characters are really well described and brilliantly intertwined with the English ballad Lamkin/Long Lankin. The atmosphere created by Lindsey Barraclough becomes almost a rather suffocating character in the story, following the main characters around and biding its time before striking.
The story is pretty straightforward, while still shrouding Long Lankin with enough mystery, but the real beauty of the book lies in the writing. It is inescapably haunting and beautiful. Alternating between Cora, Roger and Auntie Ida, scenes are seen through different set of eyes and understanding, which is a very interesting way to tell this story. You also get different point of views during the same action, making you know everything which is happening except Long Lankin's whereabouts and thoughts.
The back story to the song - which I'd rather not explain for spoilery reasons - and the religious aspect of the story bring quite a lot of depth to the story (without it being too heavy). Kids and teens will love this book, but adults will also appreciate other sides to the story that might remind them of their youth.
I really loved the characters. I felt that the living in a small isolated village and the weight of traditions and hearsay were strongly felt during the book. Even though the book is primarily the scary Long Lankin story, the whole frame carrying the plot holds its own.
I was personally not dramatically spooked, so don't automatically dismiss this book if you don't like scary stories. And if you do like horror stories and mysteries, you really shouldn't miss this truly original book. It is definitely one of a kind in the current YA market.
Note: perfect for boys and girls and anyone with an interest in folk. The scary bits are mainly psychological and there are few "violent" scenes (though not too bad) 10+
Long Lankin | Lindsey Barraclough | Random House Children's Books | April 2011
I bought the ebook version for my kindle but I also received an ARC from RHCB!
Thanks to Rosi at RHCB for sending this book!