Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Poisoned Family Tree

Published: August 2nd, 2010
The Poisoned House
By: Michael Ford
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN-13: 9781408804506

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 makes an appearance - 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, and by someone under their very own roof. With Samuel returned to England badly wounded, it’s up to Abi to nurse him back to health, while trying to discover the identity of the killer in their midst. As the chilling truth dawns, Abi’s world is turned upside down.


   Abi Tamper has lived at Greave Hall her entire life, ever since her Father died and her Mother become the nanny for Lord Greaves' son Samuel.  Her Mother died not that long ago, seemingly of cholera and Abi is an orphan at the mercy of Mrs. Cotton, Lord Greaves' cruel sister-in-law who is fast taking over the house as he descends into madness.  The staff's only rebellion against her is to further her belief that the house is haunted with her dead sister, Lady Greaves', angry spirit.    But then a spirit actually starts haunting Abi - the ghost of her Mother, who is trying to tell her something important about the way she died.  The chilling truths of the way events actually unfolded could change the lives of Abi and every other servant in the house forever in unexpected ways.  But with the help of her fellow scullery maid Lizzy, coal delivery boy Adam and stablehand Rob maybe she'll come through it relatively unscathed.  Even after the shocking revelations that come to light after the Lord's son Samuel comes home from the Crimean War wounded and not quite the man Abi thought he was.  I really had some spine-chilling moments with this book but it ended up being sort of predictable.  The whole things about Abi's parentage was something I saw coming a mile away.  It was enjoyable historical fiction and it was worth reading.  That said, it definitely wasn't the best book, or even ghost story I've ever read.  I'd recommend it to true-blue fans of historical, slightly paranormal fiction.  Only if you're okay with semi-predictable endings though. 

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

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