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The Poisoned House by Michael Ford

Abi Tamper leads a very restricted life as a maid in the Greaves household. It’s the 1850s, so there’s lots for a hired girl to do around a mansion in London, and next to none of it is enjoyable.

Wash the clothes, by hand, of course. Clean the fireplace—AND start the fires to keep everyone upstairs warm. Scrub the floors. Help Cook prepare meals and clean up after, for which she might get an extra bit of bread with honey. AND do anything else that the incredibly mean housekeeper Mrs. Cotten thinks of, which will, like as not, earn her a slap or at least a cruel word for thanks.

Only a year ago it had been so different. When her mother was still alive and before her dear friend (and son of the master of the house) went off to war, the household could be tense, but there were good times, too. However, after her mother passed during the cholera epidemic, Mrs. Cotten, who is also the master’s sister-in-law, began her reign of terror.

Desperate to get away from the household and not allowed to leave with permission under any circumstances, Abi takes her wild chance on a cold, dark evening.

Little does she know that all too soon she will be back in the house she dreads so much. There she will find that mysterious forces, wishing her good and ill, vie to influence her destiny.

If you enjoy ghostly stories of mystery set in the past, Michael Ford’s The Poisoned House is a most excellent destination.  

Other books that have the chill of years gone by about them are Suzanne Weyn’s Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic and Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of the Blackbirds.