Sistermagpie's Reviews > Long Lankin

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
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Oct 02, 12

bookshelves: kiddie-lit, supernatural
Read in October, 2012

Like many people, I love the old song "Long Lankin" and have spent a lot of time wondering about the many questions it raises, such as: why exactly did Long Lankin decide to murder this family? And why did the nurse help? So I'm always happy to read someone's take on it.

Lindsey Barraclough has her own interesting take, hinting at Lankin being perhaps something of a changeling connected to the marshy land where he lives. The church the local children are warned to stay away from is suggested to sit on some older, pre-Christian "bad place" and the lychgate that separates holy ground from the rest also harks back to old, half-forgotten magic.

The creeping dread that is Lankin could have been scarier for me, but what really made the book enjoyable were the characters and the setting. Barraclough did a great job conjuring up her post-war village. She highlighted the many ways that the past was very different from today without my ever feeling like she was trying to lampshade it or judge. (Even Mad Man occasionally gives in to the temptation to have a laugh at the past's expense, and Barraclough really avoids it.) Cora and Roger are both really likable and believable kids, and there was a nice balance between the adults being difficult (Cora's Aunt Ida is abusive and won't tell her anything despite having learn where that leads) and sympathetic (Roger's parents are clueless of the danger without ever getting in the way, and you have to feel for his mother trying to keep house for kids who are always making a mess they won't clean up--even Cora gets impatient at Roger's inability to properly wash a dish.) These were the kinds of characters I just enjoyed spending time with, whether they were solving an ancient supernatural mystery or watching a cricket match. In fact, as I said, my one criticism was that I almost enjoyed the non-supernatural parts more, and that's very strange for me.
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