Originally published in England, this gripping thriller follows sisters Cora and Mimi after their father foists them upon great Aunt Ida at Guerdon Hall. Ida is averse to keeping them for an unknown reason, which gets Cora “curious, poking and prying around the house.” With the help of Roger and Peter, who live up the road, she begins to piece together the terrifying truth about what goes on in Bryers Guerdon.
I am not usually a horror fan since I scare so easily. I had to read this for a class I was taking, so in I went. I was so gripped by the story I didn't want to stop and so utterly creeped out that I couldn't go to the basement of my house to switch my laundry to the dryer. It was quite a conundrum, that.
Extremely well-written and unapologetically British in vernacular and sensibility, the story, taking place over a month in 1958, is told in first-person sections from Cora and Roger with an occasional comment from Ida in present day and flashbacks. Because the pacing picks up towards the end, the reader can occasionally lose track of who tells the story; a small price to pay considering how well the details of the mystery surrounding Long Lankin hang together.
The crescendo of the action, which lasts 60 pages, comes through so clearly the reader has no trouble picturing each goosepimple-raising detail such as “…the sound of stone grating on stone….The whole panel of five carved squares gives way…and swivels around on itself vertically, bringing threads of cobwebs with it. Behind, there is a dark hole.”
In the end, Aunt Ida succeeds at what’s eluded her before; she outwits Long Lankin and protects Mimi and Cora. There's more than horror here. There's a good old fashioned story and a mystery and a friendship and a powerful thread of sibling-love.
Definitely read this book. Just don’t read it at home alone at night.