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The Servants

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  706 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews

For young Mark, the world has turned as bleak and gray as the Brighton winter. Separated from his real father and home in London, he's come to live with his mother and her new husband in an old house near the sea. He spends his days alone, trying to master the skateboard, while other boys his age are in school. He hates the unwanted stepfather who barged into Mark's life t

Hardcover, First Trade Edition, 224 pages
Published August 2007 by Earthling Publications
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,219)
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Jul 21, 2008 Michael rated it it was ok
An ultimately cutesy story but emotionally very immature. Some might say that's because the main character is 11; I won't allow the author to hide underdeveloped characters behind such a lame excuse. This book might work for young adult readers, but it is not a satisfying novel for adults.

The story centers on 11-year-old boy Mark, who has just moved from London to Brighton with his very ill mother and his new stepfather. Mark is having difficulty accepting the limitations of his mother's illness
Will Byrnes
Sep 15, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebekah Rochester
Aug 04, 2014 Rebekah Rochester rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebekah by: my grandfather
What a weird little book! As a teenager reading this book (I see in the reviews that most readers are a lot older than me, and no wonder, as I was given this book by my grandfather with a little post-it saying 'recommended' in his old-fashioned black script), I was uncannily reminded of Tom's Midnight Garden. Yes? No? I gave my mum the synopsis, and she just said, "Well, that's just like Tom's Midnight Garden, isn't it?"
Well, not quite. I got a few little messages out of this book (there may be
Hope Baugh
Certain aspects of this fast read reminded me of the movies "The Others" and "The Sixth Sense," although the plot is very different. I picked it up because I enjoy reading fiction and nonfiction about "the golden age of servants," but this is mostly a contemporary coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old boy whose mother and new stepfather move him against his will from London to a huge, old house on the Brighton Beach during the off season. Most of the house is closed off. The little old lady w ...more
The Servants by M. M. Smith is a rather different offering from the author's previous books as Michael Marshall and Michael Marshall Smith.

It has the same core premise as Only Forward and Spares (and to some extent One of Us), of a solidified subconscious realm where the protagonist's psychological issues are worked out through surreally allusive imagery. Unlike those stories, however (and even despite the fact that it's set in Brighton, like certain key scenes in Only Forward), it's a tighter,
Mar 09, 2015 Allie rated it liked it
The Servants is an interesting young adult/middle grade story featuring a troubled young boy as a protagonist. Mark’s life has taken a turn he didn’t expect and can’t change, and he is having difficulty coping. I enjoyed Mark’s young perspective, and following him as he struggled to understand his new situation. I was less interested in the supernatural elements of the story, though, except as they were related to Mark’s growth as a character. I also felt that the ending was a little too abrupt ...more
Jan 20, 2008 Ellen rated it it was ok
This book was easy to read and follow, although there were some unconventional interactions with characters and places from the past. The 11 year old main character, Mark, was able to grow and learn to understand people's imperfect relationships with each other. He could see that people and events from the past are always part of the present. He grew from a young child with selfish needs to one who could step outside his own needs to understand those of his Mother and new stepfather. These adult ...more
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
I read this book in one day, but was disappointed that it wasn't all I'd hoped for. I was attracted to the plot line that the main character discovers the ghosts in the old servants quarters in his home. While this was the case, the author didn't really take the plot in the exciting direction I would have liked.

The main character was a young boy dealing with the breakup of his parents, and his ill mother marrying an American and moving to Brighton. There is a lot of skateboarding out in the cold
Loz Cook
May 01, 2008 Loz Cook rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Loz by: Breanne
I loved this book. It was wonderful. Marshal-Smith has a wonderful way of throwing all your expectations into his books with each line you read then turning those ideas on their heads.
I will say i didn't enjoy it as much as a couple of his other novels but it was engaged thoroughly until the end. I liked how just because bad stuff happened in the book, there wasn't a magical resolution to the real problems, despite the servants predicament and the main characters visiting them.
I enjoyed the li
Jun 29, 2016 Therese rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost-stories
The components are all here for the proper ghost story. The harbinger (sweet old lady who knows more than she seems to) the secret door that sometimes opens to this century and sometimes not, the curious young boy, the historic's all there.

But this isn't supposed to be a ghost story. I think that's what is throwing me. The point of the book is what is happening in THIS century, upstairs from the ghosts who wander the forgotten servants hall. Where an angry unpleasant boy refuses to se
Louise Beilby
Oct 26, 2015 Louise Beilby rated it it was ok
I mistakenly bought this in a charity shop thinking that it was some kind of supernatural thriller, which it was to some extent, but nowhere on the cover or in the publishing information did it say that this was for young adults. So it wasn't a challenging read and it didn't really hold my attention as I might have hoped.

The problem is, that even if this is a book for teenagers the story is still told in an incredibly simplistic and naïve way. It reads more like it's for 8-year-olds, except that
Jul 29, 2015 JK rated it did not like it
I didn't realise when I picked this up that it was actually a young adult novel. I was expecting a ghost story with a bit more depth, and didn't really enjoy the book. I wouldn't recommend it to adults, but perhaps for the intended audience this book would be okay.

I was disappointed as I was expecting (and was in the mood for) a gripping ghost story, but instead was presented with a coming-of-age novel. I could have dealt with that had I not run into a severe lack of character development. The s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 16, 2013 Shali rated it really liked it
A wonderful story about a boy and his transition from a child into a young adult. I thought that his child-like self obsession in which he assumes that everyone's actions, particularly his step-fathers, are an attempt to antagonize him was well written. Once he matures and realizes the folly of his own perceptions, he is able to see and appreciate people for who they really are, and the more plain motivations of their actions. There were many metaphors alluding to this in the story.
Jul 12, 2015 Kurt rated it really liked it
Michael Marshall Smith is a '90's writer, born with a voice, and that's why I love him. One of the great, great writers of speculative fiction in the last 30 years, not as well known on the American side of the pond. A rare, rare ability to fluidly delve into the under-layers of the human psyche and reveal the innards in a way that is both beautiful and revelatory. "The Servants" is the last book he has written under his Smith name: a kind of coming of age tale, a sort of ghost story, a novella ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Claire rated it it was ok
This book is well written and easy to read as it's intended for a younger audience.
The story revolves around a boy who moves with his sick mother to the house of his new stepfather. He feels lost, unwanted and helpless but occupies his time trying to skateboard and exploring secret rooms in the basement.
The interaction between the main characters was fair enough but the parts that involved the servants didn't make much sense to me, and the ending made no sense at all.
In conclusion the book was
Eygló Karlsdóttir
"If you live long enough, everything happens." (Servants, Prologue)

I finished Servants by M. M. Smith last night. It turned out to be one of those books I couldn't actually put down, which is a bit strange considering I usually dislike novels were the main character is a kid or a teenager. Stories were the main characters are kids are usually hard to write and hard to digest I think. But I put down all the other books I'm reading and read through this one fast. It was hard to put down.

I started
Mar 26, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Read some of the other reviews, & I guess I really didn't open this book with any expectations whatsoever. I knew it would be well written of course. It is MMS we're talking about after all. So I was pleasantly surprised by how it unfolded page after page.

It's a subtle ghost story. Not a haunted house story. Guess I never thought it would be, looking back to before I started reading it. More metaphor than ghost story really. And that's okay.

After all, what's wrong
Jul 05, 2011 Woowott rated it liked it
Not bad, not bad. Not as good as some of his short stories I've read. Perhaps, for me, told a bit too much from the main character's p.o.v. Mark read a little too much like angsty Harry Potter in 'The Order of the Phoenix. It gets a trifle tedious and annoying. But it's a bit interesting, how the ghostly servants actually fit into his life. I goofily spent part of the book trying to figure out exactly how butlers and housekeepers and maids fit into the story of Mark and his stepfather and cancer ...more
Alison Stegert
Feb 23, 2013 Alison Stegert rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, ghost-stories, novella
The essentials are there: a mysterious house, an angsty boy, creepy goings on, and a great setting in a beachside town. The unanswered questions are compelling. Uprooted and transplanted into a new blended family situation in a different town, Mark is miserable. Disorienting enough on its own, his predicament is compounded by his mother's deteriorating health and a step-dad he hardly knows. Friendless and bored, he fills his days skateboarding and getting scraped up until he meets the old lady w ...more
Разглеждам си аз статията за ММС в уикипедия и какво да видя, някаква книжка от преди 2-3 години която не съм чел! Естествено веднага беше поръчана. Води се YA, но след Игрите на глада, Малкият брат и донякъде Подборът се научих да не ги подценявам в никакъв случай. А и все пак е ММС ебаси.
Мързи ме да преразказвам историята, та ще я пейстна в няколко реда от амазон:
11-year-old Mark has moved to Brighton, a decaying English resort town, with his sickly mother and her new husband, David. Mark hat
Apr 05, 2012 Rob rated it liked it
The Servants is a departure from Smith's usual worlds of noir-tinged sci-fi and dark, vaguely supernatural thrillers. Which is, presumably, why this was released as an M M Smith book rather than under one of his normal monickers.

With its focus on the internal world of a young boy who experiences something strange and possibly paranormal it is reminiscent of some of Stephen King's more introspective novels. Where it differs is that this book seems firmly aimed at young adults, a sense of impotent
Apr 26, 2012 Noëlibrarian rated it it was amazing
Mark's mother has chosen David, his stepfather, over Mark, which is infuriating enough.

Mark has been uprooted from London, where he lived perfectly happily with his mom and dad, to Brighton, where David lives above stairs in a row house, and now Dad's gone and Mum married David and now she does everything David says.

To get away from David, Mark takes his skateboard and goes down to the pier and spends day after cloudy, grim day skating, falling down, and getting back up again.

And one day he mee
Dec 30, 2010 Karissa rated it it was ok
I got this book through the amazon vine program. It sounded like an interesting premise to a story. Thought the story was well-written, the plot was slow moving, boring, and somewhat anti-climatic.

Mark is forced to move out of London to the vacation town of Brighton with his mother and new step-father. Mark sees his step-father as controlling and doesn't understand his mother's constant illness. This takes a stranger turn when Mark is shown the servant's quarters underneath their new house by an
Aug 18, 2008 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a delusional someone who really hates their stepfather
This was a very disappointing book. I expected more of a ghost story and less of a story about a boy who hates his stepfather.

Here's the book in a nutshell:
Mark moves with his sick mother and hated stepfather to a coastal town south of London. Mark really hates his step father. For some reason, the boy doesn't have to go to school because he's not in London, so he attempts to learn to skateboard. They order out Chinese a lot, and Mark spends lots of time hating his stepfather. And somewhere in
May 16, 2009 Thomas rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, dark
Michael Marshall Smith is a dark, dark author. Most of his works are nihilistic and hopeless, even when they have a happy ending, so it was a bit of a shock to read a comment about The Servants describing it as a children’s book. Having finished it, I wouldn’t necessarily agree, if only because of a few choice pieces of language (the kind that would get it rated R f it were a movie, or labeled with a “Parental Advisory” sticker if it were a CD), but I do think that there is a brilliant presentat ...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
May 07, 2012 Nesa Sivagnanam rated it really liked it
For young Mark, the world has turned as bleak and gray as the Brighton winter. Separated from his real father and home in London, he's come to live with his mother and her new husband in an old house near the sea. He spends his days alone, trying to master the skateboard, while other boys his age are in school. He hates the unwanted stepfather who barged into Mark's life to rob him of joy. Worst of all, his once-vibrant mother has grown listless and weary, no longer interested in anything beyond ...more
Jan 29, 2012 Rose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars for the writing, 3 for the story. I've never read this author before but I found him to be really good. Writing through an 11 year old boy's perspective could be literary suicide, but I found Marshall Smith did it quite well. At the beginning you understand young Mark's frustrations & unhappiness with his new life & are sympathetic. As the story reaches the end you admire his growth & maturing stages into a young man who at only 11 has to understand the highs and lows of l ...more
Sep 08, 2008 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-f
Young Mark has moved to a cold English seaside town with his new stepfather and his sick mother. Nothing is as it used to be for Mark, he doesn't like his new home or new stepfather and just wants to go home with his Mom back to London. While practicing his skateboard, he meets the elderly neighbor who lives downstairs and who shows him a secret part of the house where the servants used to live. That night, Mark hears voices and sees shadows of people who are not there. As his mother's illness g ...more
Xyleen Qien
Jun 20, 2015 Xyleen Qien rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
to all adult readers and goodreads reviewers
here's a 17 yearold teen or ya (idkidc) haha

and guess what? ure all right tht teens might like it more thn adults.

well. i hav problems with my parents, so...

and yea i thought the servant ghosts plays a big role too

and the mysterious old lady... informant of the servants of the past? oh come on.... why tht part is not talked abt further...

well... it's quite enlightening. i like it.
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Michael Marshall (Smith) is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, ONLY FORWARD, won the August Derleth and Philip K. Dick awards. SPARES and ONE OF US were optioned for film by DreamWorks and Warner Brothers, and the Straw Men trilogy - THE STRAW MEN, THE LONELY DEAD and BLOOD OF ANGELS - were international bestsellers. His most recent novels are THE INTRUDERS, BAD THINGS and K ...more
More about Michael Marshall Smith...

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