The Poisoned House by Michael Ford
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages (Hardcover): 319
Genre: Paranormal (Ghost Story)
Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850s London. Fifteen-year-old Abi is a scullery maid in Greave Hall, an elegant but troubled household. The widowed master of the house is slowly slipping into madness, and the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs.Cotton, punishes Abi without mercy. But there's something else going on in Greave Hall, too. An otherworldly presence is making itself known, and a deadly secret will reveal itself---a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.
We find ourselves sent back into a dreary, historical London in the days of house masters, scullery maids, and extreme propriety. Michael Ford has crafted a daunting world with vivid and accurate descriptions for the time period that set up an daunting outlook for our story and our littler heroine, Abi.
Abigail Tamper is a young scullery maid stuck in the middle of a devastating situation. In addition to being the clutches of a rigid housekeeper and a maddening house master, Abigail finds herself alone after the death of her mother. She is starts as a broken young girl who finds herself poor and hopeless but when strange things begin to happen around the manor, she finds a hidden strength to uncover the mystery and solve the puzzles that surround her. In her sleuthing, not only does she uncover twists, turns and betrayals but evolves into being a determined young lady.
Ford did a wonderful job a creating a character that can connect to the reader. You can understand her pain, feel her fear, and hope for her to overcome the devastating truths she discovers. Other characters are not as intricately detailed and she doesn't really have much of a cast of support characters. It provides an interesting opportunity to really understand Abi and Abi alone.
Understanding Abi and her fragile situation is a major facet of understanding the entire story that is the underlying mystery here. In the beginning, I felt the plot was setting up for a shallow idea of what a haunting is or really can be. However, when it reveals more than just a haunting and that true mystery is what is lying behind this, it is more intense than a simple ghost story and it is extremely well crafted to be that puzzling mystery.
If you are looking for a cross-genre read, this covers ghost stories, mystery, and historical in one fatal, and well-crafted, swoop. I would recommend this to readers looking for a haunting story that doubles as a simple read.
Rating out of 5: