Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Review: The Poisoned House - Michael Ford

The year is 1856, and orphan Abigail Tamper lives below stairs in Greave Hall, a crumbling manor house in London. Lord Greave is plagued by madness, and with his son Samuel away fighting in the Crimea, the running of Greave Hall is left to Mrs Cotton, the tyrannical housekeeper. The only solace for the beleaguered staff is to frighten Mrs Cotton by pretending the house is haunted. 

So when a real ghost makes an appearance - that of her beloved mother - no one is more surprised than Abi. But the spirit has a revelation that threatens to destroy Abi’s already fragile existence: she was murdered, and by someone under their very own roof. With Samuel returned to England badly wounded, it’s up to Abi to nurse him back to health, while trying to discover the identity of the killer in their midst. As the chilling truth dawns, Abi’s world is turned upside down.

The Poisoned House has all the right elements for a Gothic Victorian ghost story - from the creepy house and a heroine with a tragic history to the cruel housekeeper and dashing son of the household. Combine that with really great writing and you get a fantastic book that's just perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The story starts with plucky young Abi, the servant girl, running away from Greave Hall. She's soon found and returned to her employer's home. It's not the master of the house - who's not exactly with it - she's trying to get away from though, it's the overbearing Mrs Cotton, the housekeeper, who makes her life a misery. Abi's situation is made worse because she grew up being almost one of the family. Her mother was the nursemaid for young Samuel Greaves and Abi grew up along side him, not quite a sister but almost certainly a friend. On the death of her mother, Abi was allowed to stay at Greave Hall but now belongs 'below stairs' and is treated as less than worthless by Mrs Cotton, who seems to have a particular vendetta against her. Abi has friends among the other staff though, as well as Adam the delivery boy, and once Samuel returns home from the war injured it appears that things around Greave Hall are going to change. 

There's also a ghostly presence that seems to appear after one of the household staff plays a prank on Mrs Cotton. Abi believes the ghost to be that of her mother and it seems she is trying to send her daughter a warning. but Abi can't work out what it is.

There's a few twists and turns in the story which makes you want to keep reading to reveal the truth. Some are more surprising than others. I did really enjoy reading this book but I wasn't really into how it ended- probably just because it wasn't what I wanted to happen. I'll definitely be looking out for more stuff by Michael Ford though.

Other reviews of this book:
Daisy Chain Book Reviews

Disqus for A Trillian Books


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