Monday, 16 August 2010

9+: The Poisoned House - Michael Ford


Abigail is a maidservant in Greave Hall, an elegant London household governed by the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs Cotton. Whilst the widowed master slips slowly into madness, Mrs Cotton gradually usurps the position of gentlewoman of the house. She wears his dead wife's jewellery and clothes, entertains guests as though the house is her own and reserves her most despotic treatment for Abi. In the dead of night, Abi makes a desperate bid for freedom, but is soon captured and returned to Greave Hall. As Mrs Cotton's malice intensifies, a ghostly presence distracts Abi with clues to a deadly secret. And Abi now realises that she can trust no one in the house.


Historical fiction is a tricky type of tale to bring to the adult audience let alone the Young Adult market. Yet that’s exactly what Michael Ford has done with this offering that is almost Dickensian in its telling. The plot is very well designed, the characters vivid and you can’t help but route for the lead character to struggle through the events in which she finds herself. Add to this a very stark take on dialogue that works well for the time period backed up with solid description and it’s a tale that will stay with you.

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