Being the kind of person I am, I had to gather as much information as I could on Long Lankin when I reviewed the novel by the same name. Horror tales were popular in the good ol’ days as well as today.
Belinkin and the nurse are two extremely frightening people who “had it coming” when IT came.
Various versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale have been around since the late 1600’s. The Puppet Queen adds itself to that list and keeps itself somewhat bleak in the tradition of folk-tales.
Twins, fraternal ones, can be as different from each other as any other pair of siblings. Selene and Auralia are like night and day. Auralia is the serene and proper one while Selene is the dark-haired girl in fine, torn tunics, tumbling into trouble any day of the week. Auralia is ready to embrace adulthood while Selene thinks the whole thing sounds like a bore. For a girl growing up in a society such as the one described in The Puppet Queen adulthood could be very constricting, and for a girl like Selene adulthood would probably have been excruciating to adjust to.
Life in the world of folk-tales tends to be fraught with danger. Curses, wickedness, murder, rape, and abuse of various sorts seem to trail through them all. There is always a way out, but that way tends to carry a high price and the “hero” must find it in them to pay it. If not – well …
The curse of Sleeping Beauty and of The Puppet Queen is one of sleep. Sleep for a castle in Sleeping Beauty and sleep for a whole country in The Puppet Queen. The only one to escape the curse in The Puppet Queen is Selene, and Selene it is who must save the day.
I think what I liked most about The Puppet Queen is that it stayed true to the spirit of folk-tales. People in the middle-ages knew how to tell stories. That these stories are used as a base for modern tales only shows the quality of the stories and their value as teaching tools.
I like the way Mira Zamin showed how difficult it was for Selene to withstand Gwydion. Their relationship was clearly an abusive one. But for Selene to break out of that relationship just wasn’t done in the days portrayed in the story. Perhaps she manages to do so and perhaps she doesn’t, but her experiences are the experiences of many women in relationships today. He who was once Prince Charming might well turn into King Terror. I appreciated Princess Selene’s resilience and the way she kept on going no matter what. Her main goal was to break the curse and she would endure what she must to reach her goal.
I am going to say it again. Grimhilda is the most adorable wicked witch I have ever come across. She is wicked, but she is wicked in a proprietary and warm manner.
Paul Kater’s writing conveys humour in spades. Some of it is innocently raunchy and some of it simply funny while the violence is quite innocent. My advice about age appropriateness is the usual one – check the story out yourself first and then decide.
Dandh (review below) said:
If you have any imagination, you can easily forgive the ‘unprofessional’ writing and enjoy the story. Many people expect too much from Kindle free books. This is a venue for amature writers to get their stories published. They don’t have editors and teams of people working behind them. The stories are pure and unedited, that’s what makes them great.
My favorite part of this story is the part where Hilda gets visited by door-to-door salespeople trying to sell her a broom. I wish I could do what she did to some of the salespeople that turn up on our doorstep.
Snow White is your classic airhead that somehow seems to survive unscathed all the horrors that are thrown her way. With Hilda as her own “semi-godmother” she has a bit of supernatural protection. But all is not horror in the life of Snow White. No, indeed it is not. I liked this version of the seven dwarves.
We also get to meet Baba Yaga. For some strange reason there are people out there who seem to think that Baba Yaga originated with Terry Pratchett. Just to clear the record, she does not. Baba Yaga and Grimhilda are great friends who love to prank the other witches.
Some on the witches that are pranked by Hilda and Baba Yaga are the three witches of MacBeth (the Weird Sisters). I guess you could say that Kater’s similarity with Pratchett lies in using some of the same sources as Pratchett does. Paul also employs humour to get whatever message he wants across to the reader.
Paul’s obvious love for his craft is what allows me to look beyond editorial problems. Sometimes a writer’s talent shines through whatever limitations are placed on him.
Hilda, the Wicked Witch is the first novel in Hilda, the Wicked Witch series. Grimhilda is supposed to be wicked and she is. But she is wicked in a fun way.
The story begins in three locations. One is with a motorcycle gang on its way into a bar. The other is in a bookshop and the third is in front of a mirror. With the slap of a hand all three parts come together and Hilda is let loose on our world.
Our world gets a pretty harsh meeting with Grimhilda the wicked witch – the witch from Snow White.
The moments of gentle humour are many. We have the bar, the coffee experience, the road and so on. They just keep on coming. Kater’s writing is good and he brings me into this short story about a woman that I ought to be more afraid of but that I cannot help but adore.
Lamkin, Bold Lamkin, Bold Lantern, Bolakin, False Linfinn and Long Lankin are some of the titles belonging to the story of the mason who builds a castle, is cheated of his fee and who then exacts a bloody revenge (A.L. Lloyd). I have included below what is thought to be the original ballad along with one of the musical interpretations of the story.
Long Lankin is Lindsey Barraclough’s first novel. Whatever hiccups it might suffer from are compensated by Barraclough’s excellent prose. For a new author her flow was a delight.
Horror stories are not my forte simply because I am too easily frightened by authors stringing words together in that manner, but Long Lankin is within my endurance limit. Barraclough’s ability to convey the creepiness and uneasiness of the horror story did affect me in the manner the author probably intended.
During their stay at great-auntie Ida’s, Cora and Mimi encounter a mystery of terrible dimensions. As all children ought, Cora and Mimi venture into places they should not. Auntie Ida has not explained why they need to stay away from certain places, thinking to spare them from a terrible truth. Even though I promised myself that I would never do such a thing to my own children, I too have been guilty of doing underestimating them. Auntie Ida is going to discover what I did. Telling the truth is generally the wisest.
With their new friends, Peter and Roger, the four children set out to explore the church and the graveyard, and our horror story begins. Cora is the hero of this story. She is the one who is responsible for looking after her little sister. This is the age-old duty of older siblings. But keeping Mimi safe becomes increasingly difficult.
Cora and Mimi become embroiled in the history of the village, the history of the church and the history of their Auntie’s old house Guerdon Hall. Some places are the perfect settings for a horror tale. Old manors struggling to keep themselves together would qualify in my mind. Another such location can be old churches and graveyards, perhaps even forests and marshes. Long Lankin has three of these: Guerdon Hall, of course. The church close to the house and the nearby marsh.
Choices may have far-reaching consequences, sometimes centuries into the future. Everything has a cost. Payment must be made one way or another. Friendship, family, loss, grief can be some of the price extracted. Cora and Mimi coming to stay with Auntie Ida happens to be one of these long-term costs. I love the way Barraclough brings the old ballad into her story in tiny drips along the way. The Lay of Lambert Lanikin is frightening enough on its own. Add the terror of the future that Barraclough shares, and we can all huddle under our covers waiting for the wolf under our bed to jump onto it.
What a creepy good time I had!
Exactly what age group this falls into is difficult to say. According to the author, she did not have a particular age group in mind when she wrote Long Lankin.