Kelly's Reviews > Long Lankin

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
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's review
Jul 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: ya-fiction, read-in-2012
Read from April 21 to 22, 2012


This book's atmospheric writing only makes the creep factor in the end that much more powerful. For a long time, I was taken with the setting itself and thought it wouldn't deliver on the fear factor (because at 300 pages I was still unsure exactly what would be the scary part since I knew what was coming) but oh, those last 100 pages pulled it out. My heart definitely raced a bit.

Cora and her sister Mimi are sent to live with their great Aunt Ida while their dad takes care of some business. Their mom's sick -- something that's only ever talked about peripherally, but good readers will figure it out and understand the implications of sooner than the girls will. Despite knowing that bad things have happened to children under the care of Ida, there aren't other choices for the girls' supervision.

It is then that the spirits rise. When things start to appear. When cave bestiam starts showing up everywhere (for someone who knows Latin, all of the Latin infused in here was a trip, but those who don't know it will learn it right along with Cora and Roger). The house they're in is sweltering, all of the windows and doors sealed and locked tight so they're unable to be opened. Because when they're opened, bad things happen.

Bad things are happening already. (view spoiler) Back story is woven skillfully into the tale, and while it verges on info-dumping periodically, it's absolutely necessary and essential to moving the story along. This book is almost 500 pages, but I read it almost entirely in one sitting. The pacing is great, and those lengthier pieces do not drag. And oh, does it make the pay off in the end worthwhile. I was terrified that (view spoiler) Talking about how the horror and spirits unfold would ruin the plot, but it has to do with the church, with the notion of peace and rest, with rituals and putting the dead into a final rest. The pieces are all there for the reader to put together but they aren't handed over to us. They aren't obvious.

While I thought the characters were good, I was especially taken with Aunt Ida. She's cold. She's grieving. She's angry. And she's downright mean and nasty at times. Except she has to be. She's had a crap lot in life, and she carries the hurt with her. But there is a huge insight into her character through the kids, and it was when that shift happened that I knew how I wanted the story to end. (view spoiler)

The only things that didn't work for me here were secondary things: there was a bit of a hint about Aunt Ida's marriage and former relationship that didn't work for me (it's dropped in but never pursued when in reality, it could have not been there at all) and at times, it was hard to keep all of the secondary characters apart. But they're minor quibbles in the face of an incredibly successful story. I'm impressed as hell this is Barraclough's first novel.

The writing and marshy/English countryside setting reminded me a lot of Susan Hill's "The Woman in Black." Oh how I want more books like this, especially in YA.

If you like horror/chilling/creepy stories, especially those that tackle the spiritual world/haunted houses, this is a winner. There's a little bit of gore but not too much. This plays much more into psychological fear than physical fear, even though there is definitely a physical threat in here.

Full review here:
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Reading Progress

04/21/2012 page 25
5.0% "The atmospheric writing is stand out already."
04/22/2012 page 300
66.0% "Seriously satisfying."

Comments (showing 1-2)

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message 2: by Courtney (new)

Courtney I've heard this is creeeeeepy! I have been anticipating it.

Kelly Courtney wrote: "I've heard this is creeeeeepy! I have been anticipating it."

So far so good! I will let you know the final verdict, but if it's half as good as it's been in 25 pages, this is going to be a winner.

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