Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Poisoned House

The Poisoned House by Michael Ford
Albert Whitman & Company, 2011
319 pages
YA; Mystery
4/5 stars

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was a little nervous to pick this book up because I don't read a lot of Gothic infused novels and I'm a complete wimp when it comes to anything related to horror.  However this book wasn't really scary, which was both good and bad, for my own state of mind and the story.

This was good because it meant that I wasn't terrified throughout the entire book. Abigail Tamper is a maid in a manor house as the Crimean War blazes away. She is dominated by the tyrannical housekeeper Mrs. Cotton and soon feels that a the ghost of her mother is haunting her, attempting to get vengeance for her murder. Then the son of the house returns home from the Crimea, badly injured and that's when the tension really kicks up.  All of the characters are pretty basic with one or two defining traits and nothing else going for them.

The bad though was that I was able to predict pretty much everything that came, every revelation that was supposed to be surprising.  I think many people would be bored. Additionally there were some things that didn't work for me; namely that the housekeeper is the sister-in-law to the lord of the house. How does that happen? Wouldn't they be of different social classes, rigidly separated by Victorian society? This is especially odd to me because otherwise the different social classes were separated and any interaction was disapproved of.

I also really loved the epilogue although I can't really tell you why without spoiling it. Let's just say that it pleased me very much and was a fitting wrap-up to the book.

Overall: A decent ghost story if lacking the suspense for a true horror junkie.


  1. I'm so glad you read this! It's a good suspence book, nothing extraordinary, but definitely entertaining and it has just the right amount of Gothic. Great review! Good point about the sister-in-law issue. I thought about it too. Maybe this was a way for her to live there without compromising her position as an unmarried woman, plus it gave her control. Who knows. Glad you enjoyed it overall.

  2. Yup, I felt pretty similar. It was a nice story, but I wish it had been less predictable and more frightening.

  3. I'm so awful with horror too! I have a tendency to get easily frightened, which is why I try to stay away from scary movies and such so I don't get nightmares. But this one doesn't seem that scary (which is, like you said, both good and bad)!

    Awesome review, B! :) I'm really glad that this one wraps up nicely instead of ending in a cliffhanger LOL!

  4. This is a new one for me! It does sound like a really interesting read. Thanks so much for sharing!


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