From the Publisher
"This ghost story is light fare, chilling, and suspenseful." Starred Review, School Library Journal
"In all scary, compelling and atmospheric enough for a satisfying chill." Kirkus Reviews
"This snugly plotted novel for readers over the age of 13, which purports to be Abigail's private papers from 1855, would serve as an excellent introduction to the adult tradition of ghost stories set in the same era." Wall Street Journal
"The strength of the novel is the girl's perseverance despite her disbelief, and the reward for Abi at the end will be just as great for the audience rooting her on." Booklist
VOYA - Jane Harper
Recently orphaned, fifteen-year-old Abigail Tamper is forced to survive by working as a maid at Greave Hall, a wealthy household in 1850s London. There she is targeted for abuse by Mrs. Cotton, the cruel and tyrannical housekeeper. Abigail is completely at her mercy. Her beloved mother has been dead for a year; kindly Lord Greave, the master of the house, is slowly slipping into madness; and his handsome son and heir, Abigail's dear childhood friend, has returned gravely wounded from the Crimean War. With no one to rescue her, there seems to be no end to the torment Abigail must sufferuntil a ghost enters Greave Hall. This ghost will not rest until a scandalous family secret is revealed and a decades-old score is settled. This well-crafted novel delivers all the elements of a great ghost story: a brooding gothic atmosphere, an adventurous protagonist who intrepidly pursues every terrifying new clue, a relentless and scary ghost, and a colorful cast of fully developed secondary characters. There are enough plot twists, dark secrets, murder, and betrayal to keep readers turning the pages. This supernatural tale actually has enough elements of historical fiction to satisfy readers of both genres, giving it even broader appeal, and is sure to be included on every future list of young adult ghost stories. Reviewer: Jane Harper
Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
It's been nearly a year since Abi's mother died and in that time, Abi's life has changed dramatically. A maid in the house where her mother worked as a nurse, Abi is desperate to escape the oppressive atmosphere that lies over the house due to the influence of the housekeeper, the master's sister-in-law, Mrs. Cotton. Abi's attempt to escape is easily thwarted, but her return to the house starts her on a journey that Abi never expected. Just before Samuel, the master's son, returns from the Crimean War, Abi becomes convinced the house is haunted and only becomes more certain that her mother is sending her warnings after Sammy's return. As the mystery deepens, Abi becomes more and more convinced that her mother was murdered and that there are more secrets in the house than she could ever suspect. The story is intriguing and well-written and is engaging enough that the book is difficult to put down. Though the story is rather predictable, it will appeal to middle school readers just becoming interested in the mystery and horror genre. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—The year is 1855 and orphaned serving girl Abigail Tamper, 14, tries to escape Greave Hall, an austere London mansion, in the dead of night. She is hauled back and forced to work for Mrs. Cotton, cruel and devious housekeeper to senile Lord Greave. It isn't just the dreary residents who frighten Abi; there's something terribly amiss in the house. Glasses crash to the floor, rooms are turned topsy-turvy and then righted again when no one is looking, handprints appear in impossible places. Deepening Abi's dread is the upcoming anniversary of her mother's death. She pins her hopes for brighter days on the heir to the house, handsome Samuel Greave, who is returning as an injured hero from the Crimean War. The two played together in childhood, when Abi's mother was Master Samuel's nurse, and they share a brother/sisterlike bond. But the eerie occurrences only increase on his return. Is Abi's dead mother trying to tell her something? Every gothic trope is put to use here: the silent butler, a séance gone wrong, messages via Ouija board, secret alliances, out-of-wedlock pregnancies (two of them), and a last-minute will that changes everything. This ghost story is light fare, chilling, and suspenseful. Readers who ask for "more like this book" might well be primed for something more substantial, like Henry James himself.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
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. Mrs. Cotton finds a way to blame Abi for most of it. Abi must try to puzzle out questions of her mother's demise and other questions about their place in the household. 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. Ford suddenly turns a sympathetic character evil without foreshadowing, which may strike readers as unfair, and the conclusion happens rather abruptly, but he ties up the tale very nicely by ending with Abigail's full obituary of many decades later.
In all, scary, compelling and atmospheric enough for a satisfying chill. (Ghost story. 12 & up)