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The Mark of Cain, by Lindsey Barraclough, Bodley Head, RRP£12.99, 496 pages

Lindsey Barraclough’s debut, Long Lankin, about a group of children poking around an eerie church in the marshes and unleashing spirits, was a hypnotically creepy tale that built to a jolting climax.

Set four years later, in 1962, The Mark of Cain finds Cora back in the village of Bryers Guerdon, now living in the decrepit manor house left to her by her Aunt Ida. Cora, her sister Mimi and their ally Roger have buried their past, but when weird symbols are daubed on the door of Guerdon Hall and two sinister old women are spotted, it is obvious that while Long Lankin may be gone, the curse remains.

As before Cora and Roger share the narration, and ordinary family life is juxtaposed with supernatural events. The Mark of Cain is as slow-paced as its predecessor but never quite offers the same chills. Yet, as the children mature, there is a deeper understanding that the roots even of evil often lie in being outcast, misused and forlorn.

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