She's reluctant because of Long Lankin, and as you read the book, you find out why all children are forbidden to go near the old All Hallows church that sits near Guerdon Hall. It's where Long Lankin hangs out. He's a horrible nightmare, responsible for countless young children and babies disappearing over centuries. And Mimi is just the right age (4) to become the next victim.
Cora has no clue about this, but is very unhappy to be at Guerdon Hall. She soon finds a companion in Roger, a young boy from Bryers Guerdon, the village that sits up the hill from Guerdon Hall. They get into a lot of mischief--and soon ignore Aunt Ida's edict not to go near All Hallows church. The church is very very old, surrounded by a graveyard, and doesn't feel right at all. Cora and Mimi soon are seeing creepy children standing in the cemetery--with no eyes and grey flesh falling off of their bones. They see a dark figure creeping around the graveyard, too. Not a good sign.
Cora's curiosity soon gets the best of her, and as she digs into the mystery of the church, Aunt Ida, and Guerdon Hall, she uncovers a horrible story that has kept the village and Aunt Ida in terror for decades. For much of the novel, Aunt Ida is an unfriendly woman who does not want the girls at her home and treats them badly. You find out why she is this way through a few flashbacks of her life as a young woman. But--as the novel slowly builds the tension and uneasiness, it leaps to an action packed ending that keeps you feverishly turning the pages and shouting at the characters in the book. Well--at least I did. Can Cora and Roger put all the pieces together in time to save Mimi from Long Lankin? Can Aunt Ida help the kids and finally banish the evil from All Hallows church?
I love this kind of book--atmospheric, creepy, and that slow build of solving the puzzle with a rip-roaring ending that leaves you as breathless as the characters.
Rating: 4/5 for a great teen novel that has a supernatural character that is truly creepy and has no redeeming qualities--a bad bad creature. I also liked the time period: 1958 post-war England.
This book is available at your local bookstore in hardcover and as an e-book.