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The Poisoned House

A Ghost Story

The Victorian time period fascinates me, and a good ghost story adds to the flair in Michael Ford’s new book, The Poisoned House. It has all the elements necessary to be frightening. A servant girl, Abi,  with a tragic history, a house that’s less than comfortable, a handsome guy and a wicked housekeeper, Mrs. Cotton, and of course, there’s a ghost.
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 appears – 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 by someone under their very own roof. With Samuel returning to England badly wounded, it’s up to Abi to nurse him back to health while trying to discover the killer’s identity in their midst. As the chilling truth dawns, Abi’s world is turned upside down.

The story takes place in London, during the Victorian era. The main character, Abi Tamper, is fifteen and still grieving over her mother’s death, who passed a year ago. Her mother was a nursemaid in the Greave household, but Abi finds herself abused and forced to work long hours alongside the housekeeper, Mrs. Cotton, since her mother’s passing.

The Poisoned House was an afternoon read. Michael Ford writes in great detail, painting vivid pictures of the book’s taking place. The tension and terror are believable, and the character development is very well done.

 Throughout the book, the ghostly presence has the reader guessing whether it is trying to help or destroy young Abi. Coupled with the unstable Greave family, this story comes to life from the very first page. Every character has a background that pulls the reader into their world of secrecy.

Samuel, the son of the master, arrives home injured from the Crimean war. He is handsome and tender. I loved his character as it provided some laughter and a release of the fear that was building as the pages turned.

Michael Ford does well-creating characters, even taking them beyond the cliches. He weaves a story with the reader on the edge of the seat, building the story through twists and plot turns. It is a book sure to tempt even reluctant readers. The 230-page book fell short on the ending. It seemed too executed and left me still with questions.

*I received The Poisoned House in order to facilitate an honest review. The opinions, where expressed, are my own, and were in no way influenced by the sponsor. Others experiences may vary.
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