YA Fiction – Horror & Ghost Stories, Published August 2011
ARC Received from netGalley (Albert Whitman & Company)
YA Historical Fiction Challenge (YA Bliss & Books Are A Girl’s Best Friends)
Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850s London. After her mother’s death, fifteen-years-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 soon a deadly secret begins to reveal itself—–a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.
First Impressions (Out of all the books I have to read, why this one?):
I was really looking forward to this ghost story. I’m really a sucker for books with this type of framing – it’s a true account, really!!, and we even found a diary! I love it! PS – the trailer is pretty awesome.
The story started out great with a lot of action with Abi trying to run away. We, the reader, didn’t know what or who she was running from or where she was going. I felt that after she is caught and brought back to Greave Hall, Abi’s sense of adventure and rebellion really took a back seat in the plot. I would have loved to see her rebel against the HORRIBLE Mrs. Cotton. The author spends a lot of time setting up Abi’s background story and how she came to live in Greave Hall as a scullery maid.
Then things at Greave Hall start to go awry, first with little things moving around or missing altogether. Abi is usually the one to be blamed for these acts. The hauntings escalate with the pacing of the plot. Overall, I liked the writing style and loved that Greave Hall is truly a character in itself (a creepy one at that!) I also liked that the author framed the novel to be read like a true story account, with the beginning reporting the finding of diary papers found in an estate’s renovation and ending with (SPOILER ALERT!) an obituary clipping. I felt the turns and twists were pretty predictable and didn’t really see the need for Mrs. Cotton’s character to be so horrible (especially the Rowena incident – was that really necessary to the story, I’m really unsure as to why this had to be included), but despite that, I did continually want to find out if what I thought was going to happen really happened (it did). I think the younger crowds will really enjoy the creepiness factor of this horror story, but the overall Victorian scandal of the novel may not impress everyone.
Sidenote: I actually listened to this entire book using the text-to-speech feature on my kindle. I used the female voice and sloowwwed her down and I swear at times she was really getting into the story. I will definitely be using her again!:)
The boundaries between this world and the next are like oil and water. They cannot exist together, but pools can form, pockets where one exists inside the other. If they have left something unsaid or undone in life, it’s through these pockets that they come back to haunt us.