Another lovely creepy tale! This genuinely scary story for teenagers is set in 1958. Cora and her little sister Mimi are packed off to stay with Auntie Ida in the country by their feckless father, who doesn’t want to look after them. Ida doesn’t want the children either but for very different reasons – there’s a horrible history of harm that comes to children at Guerdon Hall, and she’s desperate to stop it happening again; but lumbered with the children she is paralysed by fear and unable to prevent the supernatural stirrings of an ancient evil… Before long Cora is aware of a ghostly presence in the house, and as she and her new friends Roger and Pete explore the local church they encounter more terrifying spectres. As the vengeful spirit of Long Lankin sets his sights on innocent Mimi, can Cora stop him and save her sister?
I loved the story’s multiple narrative voices, particularly that of Roger, who wonderfully captures the spirit of a free-range 1950’s childhood. There’s a genuine sense of supernatural menace in this story and a dark, brooding presence in the murky landscape, mirrored in the everyday world by the inability of the adults to recognise and respond to danger, or the childrens’ fears. Only Ida understands and she is so afraid she cannot act, unlike feisty Cora. The conclusion is meaty and tense, providing a satisfying resolution to the creepy unease that has been deftly built throughout the story. A good read for teenagers and adults alike. Rating: ***
Corgi Books, 2011, ISBN 9780552563215