The Poisoned House by Michael Ford
About: A scullery maid, a great house, whispered evil and a ghost populate this first-person tale of mid-19th-century London.
Abigail’s mother died a year ago of cholera, and the 14-year-old girl misses her fiercely; Mrs. Cotton, Lord Greaves’ sister-in-law, is cruel to the staff—Abi in particular—in every possible way. Her mother was servant and nursemaid to Sam, who is now back, injured, from the Crimean War, and Abi hopes the return of Sam will both cheer the ailing Lord Greaves and protect her from Mrs. Cotton. But strange happenings pervade Greave Hall: Keys go missing; filthy handprints appear; unidentifiable noises are heard. Abigail’s fellow servant Lizzie, Lizzie’s banishment and the coal boy Adam figure in the story, as does a compliant Ouija board, which leads to a climatic confrontation and another death…
In all, scary, compelling and atmospheric enough for a satisfying chill. (taken from Kirkus Review)
Debbie Says: 14-year old orphan Abigail (Abi) Tamper is a housemaid at London’s Greave Hall. 1856 London is not a particularly pleasant time or place to be a servant but Abi’s circumstances make her tenuous existence frightening and dangerous. Abi has run away from Greave Hall several times but is captured and returned each time by the police acting on the orders of Greave Hall housekeeper Mrs. Cotton. Mrs. Cotton starves and mistreats Abi and Abi cannot understand why Mrs. Cotton doesn’t just let her go.
Ghosts, mysterious deaths, evil housekeepers, spunky but mistreated servants and an invalid Lord with something to hide living together in a dark, forbidding mansion in the heart of Victorian London; a fabulous read!