In this book, The Poisoned House by Michael Ford , the year is 1855. Thirteen year old scullery maid Abigail works a grueling job doing the household jobs that no one else wants to do; Greave Hall is the only home Abi has ever known. She grew up here with her mother, a nursemaid, and with nowhere else to go, has remained after her motherís death a year before.
Life at Greave Hall is changing. Lord Greave, the master of the house, is aging and increasingly disoriented and confused; his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cotton, is the housekeeper and Abiís personal tormentor. The return of Sam, Abiís childhood playmate and the son of the house, seems to indicate a return of brighter days, but Samís return is overshadowed by his injuries sustained in the Crimean War as well as a deeper mystery at work in Greave Hall.
Unexplainable things are happening and Abi seems to be the only one noticing..handprints where there should be none, things being moved with no explanation, and specters in the night. Is someone trying to communicate with Abi from beyond the grave? What really happened to Abiís mother; was it Cholera or something distinctly more sinister?
This is young adult novelist, Michael Fordís fourth book. I found it to be a fast paced, suspenseful read; I was able to finish it in one day and greatly appreciated the chilly, gothic atmosphere that Ford created; perfect for October. The mystery of Abiís motherís death is well developed, with just enough foreshadowing to keep the reader moving. Being suspenseful, sensational, and relatively short, this would be a great read for any reluctant readers you might have hanging around in your library, or in your home.