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Long Lankin

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This debut horror story set in Britain during the late 1940s starts slowly but weaves a chilling spell that will immerse readers in this world and hold them through to the breathless conclusion. . . .A spine-tingling selection. When a violent fire destroys their home, Aphra is left to fend for herself. Years of begging and stealing make her strong, but they also make her bitter, for she is shunned and feared by everyone she meets.

Regarded as the most stylistically elaborate Irish writer of his generation, John Banville is a philosophical novelist concerned with the nature of perception, the conflict between imagination and reality, and the existential isolation of the individual.

Until she reaches Bryers Guerdon and meets the man they call Long Lankin – the leper. Ostracized and tormented, he is the only person willing to help her.

Barraclough evokes setting and atmosphere with earthy richness, detailing smells, sounds, blossoms, family life, and decaying architecture with the same attention she gives her portrait of postwar British village culture. . .the book gives readers shivers enough as Long Lankin, pungent and fetid, emerges to test the heroism of the three protagonists. Genuinely suspenseful and eerie, "Long Lankin" is a stunning debut by an author with a wonderful feel for things that go bump in the night, and the courage it takes to shine a light on them.Very early stuff, a sort of proto-Banville; from the archaic period, before the voice had fully formed. The most interesting story was called "Nightwind" in which a recurring character type evident in many of the subsequent novels appears: the "kept man". Not a gigolo, but rather a man who has "married well" and is at some respects—and perhaps only in his own mind—beholden to his wife's money. Or more accurately, her father's money. That money allows him to pursue a more esoteric career path, one perhaps less remunerative, in the arts. Like art history or writing. This is a story to get lost in: the gloomy, rain-soaked atmosphere recalls Wilkie Collins’ THE WOMAN IN WHITE… Those who appreciate old-fashioned chillers will be rewarded by incident after unsettling incident: witchcraft, exorcisms, fire, plagues, and a blood-drinking murderer who walks on all fours. This atmospheric, pulse-pounding debut makes the most of its rural, post–World War II setting, a time and place where folklore uneasily informs reality. Barraclough controls her narrative with authority, shifting voices and tenses to provide both perspective and the occasional welcome respite from tension. . .A good, old-fashioned literary horror tale for sophisticated readers. Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a reminiscence of growing up in Wexford.

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