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{August 1, 2011}   Releasing Today: The Poisoned House

From Goodreads: Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850s London. Fifteen-year-old Abi is a scullery maid in Greave Hall, an elegant but troubled household. The widowed master of the house is slowly slipping into madness, and the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs. Cotton, punishes Abi without mercy. But there’s something else going on in Greave Hall, too. An otherworldly presence is making itself known, and a deadly secret will reveal itself—a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.

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Albert Whitman & Company have been extremely gracious to allow me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release today, and I must say that I am intrigued!  This is a great novel, full of suspense, mystery, and betrayal, and I was hooked from the very beginning!  Abi, a poor scullery maid, obtained my sympathy within moments of meeting her.  She is kind, quiet, and alone, her mother having died the previous year from cholera, and with no one to defend her, Mrs. Cotton, the overbearing house keeper, repeatedly abuses young Abi. 

In order to get back at Mrs. Cotton for all she’s ever done to the servants of the house, Abi and her friends attempt to scare Mrs. Cotton into thinking that her deceased sister has come back to haunt her.  However, the prank becomes chillingly real as some otherworldly force descends upon the house, causing Abi to question all she’s ever known, including the circumstances related to the death of her mother.

I loved the many twists and turns within the novel, especially the ending as I never saw it coming.  Ford has created wonderful characters and has put together a beautiful story of love and betrayal, gluing the reader to the pages as this haunting tale unfolds.  His use of imagery and crisp diction depicting the 1800s transports the reader back in time, causing him/her to feel one with the story, a feat few authors are able to master.  Though the action in the story slows from time to time, Ford is able to keep the reader easily engaged as the story reaches its climax and all is revealed.  Four stars.

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