The Mark of Cain by Lindsey Barraclough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Back in 1567, Aphra Rushes was raised by two witches, learning to harness a terrible power that she had deep inside her. She fell in love with Cain Lankin and sets the story in motion when she curses the descendants of the Guerdon line after she is burned at the stake for murdering her employer's infant son and for being a witch. In 1962, Cora and Mimi have returned to the ancestral home several years after the events of Long Lankin, with Cora determined to put the past behind her. But the curse needs to be fulfilled and Aphra will have her revenge, no matter what the cost.
I remember reading Long Lankin and thinking it was wonderfully creepy, giving just enough horror for the deep recesses of my mind to twist the images in the book and make them just that much more terrifying. When I learned there would be a second book, I waited impatiently for it to be released.
Unfortunately, The Mark of Cain didn't feel like a book from the same world as the first one.
For one, there were too many loose threads left once the book was finished. Will there be a third? I will read it, no doubt, but if this is the end to the story, it needed more to finish it off. Which is saying something because somewhere around page 200, I started thinking this book was meandering around, giving pointless tidbits for no reason. As a result, the story felt a little empty.
And two, the characters frustrated me. It felt like Cora was dragging her feet throughout the whole book. How can a girl, after experiencing the events of the story in Long Lankin, still be so stupidly stubborn about ignoring what is going on around her? How can she still be so reluctant to ask for help? Even when things finally start moving along, Cora still sat there, unable to open her mouth and tell people who could help her what was going on. There was barely any development with Mimi, because Cora doesn't have a good relationship with her little sister, and while the book had Roger's point of view, it took way too LONG to finally put the three of them in one place again.
The development with Aphra is what helped boost this rating to 3.5 stars. She had the elements of the original story, the one that held my interest and kept the lights on while I read. Once the book focuses on Cora and Roger, the story just stalls, taking too long to really move anywhere until the big events that lead to the ending.
I am grateful there was a second book but I wanted more from it. If it indeed turns out there will be a third book, I will breathe a sigh of relief because then that means this book is just suffering from 2nd book syndrome. If not, then I'll be left wondering what will happen to these kids and their world forever. Almost makes me wish the story had been complete at the end of the first book. Here's hoping for more about Cora, Mimi and Roger in the future.
Rating: 6.5 Stars. Long Lankin scared me. The Mark of Cain didn't have the same power behind it. I don't regret reading it, I just wanted more of the same scary magic that book 1 practically had seeping out of the pages.
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