Said my lord to my lady,
As he rode away:
"Beware of Long Lankin
That lives in the hay."
Oh goody! A fairy tale/nursery rhyme retelling. I love these books. Recently I went on a Margo Lanagan binge in anticipation of her new book. I also read the adult novel Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, which was good but not great.
Which is what I can say for Long Lankin as well. I so wanted to love it. The 1950s English countryside, the two sisters with an MIA mother and a dad who just can't take care of them sent off to live with a recluse great-aunt in a sinking old mansion out in the marsh, the adorable neighborhood brothers Roger and Pete who befriend the sisters Cora and Mimi, the abandoned old church and graveyard with the message Cave Bestiam (beware of the beast) carved all over it, a family curse, ghosts of little children and, of course, this creepy singsong rhyme about Long Lankin. Recipe for a chiller!
The book's 448 pages became a chore to get through and I will admit that at 2/3 through I started skipping to the end to get to where we finally get Long Lankin. In a horror/scary story I don't want to get bogged down in narrative. I want to be compelled to keep reading even into the dark and scary night. It was good, but not great. I do think that teens who love chilling reads and don't mind 400+ pages will enjoy it.