Long Lankin- Lindsey Barraclough

Synopsis from Goodreads.
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.

“I look over at the bed. I should lie down for a nap, get rid of this thick headache, but I hear things when I’m half asleep and they give me goose pimples. You’re supposed to be able to die from fright from a nightmare, but I don’t think these things are nightmares. I think they’re real.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Um… yeah, just going to make sure my window is closed properly. And double glazed. And bolted… twice. But I can’t help feeling a tad underwhelmed but I’m blaming my immune system… Let me explain…

High Points.
Roger, this little rummon was such a joy to read about. But fret not, dear reader, I’ll virtually mollycoddle him later. Cora and Mimi. Peter. Curses. Witches. Men in graveyards (Mmm, yeah that one probably needs more explanation as to why it’s a high point). Gypsy trees. Marshes. Raffles (I love raffles, it would only be better if it was a tombola. But I don’t think my fragile, Olbas Oiled mind could deal with a tombola right now). Ramshackled houses. Petrifying prose. Hidden passages. Village hearsay (Whatever happened to them?! Actually, don’t answer that question…just in case we summon them back from 90s reject HELL). Things that go bump in the night. “It isn’t Aunt Ida.” The cover. Cave Bestiam.

Low Points.
I wish I had been healthy when I read this book because like I mentioned earlier, I was pretty much flying high as a kite on Olbas Oil. Because I’m actually dying I have a snuffle.
I wasn’t really on my game here and I ended up getting highly confused.
So, I’m reluctant to blame Ms Barraclough’s writing but I have to be honest, there was quite a lot of moments when I was like ‘Whaat? Who’s that? What did they say? Why is everyone getting excited over a gate? Now who is singing?!’ and I had to flick back a few pages.
Eventually it became clear. I may have to re-read this somewhere down the line.
My only real qualms that I had with this book was that there were a lot of peripheral characters. They all seemed to blur into one (tended to be an elderly person with a secret that they didn’t dare tell anyone). And also the middle parts seemed to get a bit tedious. BUT… when the action happened… boy oh boy, did it happen.

Heroine/Hero.
Mmm, Cora. Whenever there are children in books I always want them to be mischievous and cheeky and get into all sorts of scrapes and scuffles (and I guess Cora did, but these scrapes and scuffles could have actually killed her… so they weren’t as sweet and cute as they usually are!). I did like that Cora was a bit rough around the edges and she did come out with some funny grumpy one liners (and she didn’t mind constantly falling over/into marshes, which happened at alarming rates in this book), but I don’t know… there seemed to be something missing with Cora…
Roger on the other hand was absolutely fantastic and he reminded me of Lee Carter.

My best friend.

And when I invoke the power of Lee Carter, I mean business. And when I say business I mean I want to make tree houses, scrape my knees and fall into patches of nettles (which actually happened once when I was seven) and eat ice lollies and end up with half of it around my face/tangled in my hair.
I bet this one will break a few hearts when he’s older.

I’ll leave you with a quote to illustrate my point:

“It’s a shame though- when Dennis was on the way, Nurse Smallbone was rushing up Fieldpath Road in her old Ford Prefect to get to Mum when our dog, Bonzo, shot out in the road right into her car- smack bang- dead as a doornail. He was a great dog, old Bonzo. I can’t tell you how many times I wish we still had him instead of Dennis.”

LOVE HIM.

Baddie.
*Shudder*
The Bogeyman has zilch on Long Lankin

Theme Tune.
I’m being lazy… but this song kind of speaks for itself. Creeeeepy.

Angst Level.

9/10. Bahh, this book is like a ghost story that you get told around a campfire (although, I have actually never been told a ghost story around a campfire).
Picture the scene.
You’re sat in your best friend’s bedroom, dressed in pyjamas from Matalan, surrounded by cuddly toys and Mizz magazines that boast how to know if a boy loves you so (I hear it’s in his kiss, but I’m not 100%). You’re best friend is telling you a story that honest-to-god- happened to her granddad’s cousins wife’s niece who lives down the road. And she never lies.
You: “That didn’t happen. Stop lying. It’s not even scary.”
Best friend/Crypt Keeper: “I swear on my life it happened. Anyway, shut up. So yeah, the ghost drags a nail across the window, testing to see if they’re open.”
There’s a loud bang downstairs and you both jump, flinging popcorn and Fangtastic Haribo’s across the room.
You: “Bloody ‘ell, I thought your parents were out!”
Best friend/Crypt Keeper: “Um, they are out.”
You:“What?! No, I just heard them. One of them is coming up the stairs.”
Best friend/Crypt Keeper: “That’s not my parents.”
Nervous laughter.
You: “Creaky floorboards?”
Best friend/Crypt Keeper: “We got new ones fitted last month.”
There’s a knock on the bedroom door and before you have enough time to leap across the room and hope to God the ivy covered lattice will hold your weight, the door flies open and it’s best friend’s brother asking sister if he can borrow a film.
And then, naturally, you pelt him with TY beanie babies until he retreats, eyes watering, because those bad boys hurt.

That is what this book is like. You think everything is just a story, like chinese-whispers, told over time, just rumours and folk tales and then things start to happen that can’t be explained.
Ms Barraclough is seemingly a mistress of suspense and has created a perfectly paced, genuinely disturbing ghost story.

Recommended For.
People who like spine-chilling books. People who aren’t surfing the Olbas Oil wave. People who like historical books. People who like it when the kids are in charge. People who have ever wonder why there are sometimes teddies and dolls stuck in trees. People who see horrifying, dilapidated churches and are like ‘HEY, LET’S GO IN!’. People who were wondering whether they need double glazing (read this book… there will not be a doubt left in your mind that you not only need it… but your life depends on it). People who wonder what the flip happened to TY beanie babies and how the heck they can get rid of the hordes they collected that are still perfectly packaged. People who find bell ringers unnerving. People who miss Bonzo.

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3 thoughts on “Long Lankin- Lindsey Barraclough

  1. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book, I'm so glad you enjoyed it too! What a fab review, you picked out some of my favorite bits, Roger is a complete legend and I laughed out loud several times, including the bit about the nurse running over the dog :D I reckon if you re-read it when you're less tanked up on meds then the peripheral characters will be less… blurry… personally I thought they were a huge strength of the book, y'know, rich tapestry and all that… Loved all their names too, really old fashioned and Englishy, made me want to play cricket and have cream teas in the pavilion. It's quite a complex read, I think pretty grown up in it's style, reminded me more of Phillip Pullman, I'm recommending it to as many adults as young adults… Anyways, thanks for a great read, I love your style, get better soon! :D

  2. Haha thanks Gracie! Yeah, you're probably right about the characters. Rich tapestry is very true.

    I completely agree with you about Philip Pullman-esque style of writing. PP is one of my favourite authors and I definitely saw the similarities.

    I have so many books I need to read at the moment, but it'll definitely be read again :)

    And urgghh, no I hadn't seen that trailer! Soooo creepy. That girl singing? *shudder*

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