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The Servants

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3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  567 ratings  ·  91 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

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

(showing 1-30 of 981)
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Michael
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
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Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Liz
"The Servants" is the story of ten-year-old Mark, whose life is miserable. His mother has remarried and he was forced to move with her and her new husband to his stepfather's house in Brighton, far from London, the town he lived in until his parents' divorce. His mother, who was once an energetic, active woman, spends all day moping in her sitting room. Mark hates his stepfather, whom he feels is dominating his mother and trying to sabotage his relationship with her.

One day Mark falls off his sk
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Ellen
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
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Loz Cook
May 01, 2008 Loz Cook rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Nicolas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebekah Rochester
Aug 04, 2014 Rebekah Rochester rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Chris
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
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Woowott
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
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
Sandino
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
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Rob
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
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Noëlibrarian
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
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Karissa
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
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Philip
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,
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Amy
Aug 18, 2008 Amy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Thomas
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
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
Rose
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
Mary
Sep 08, 2008 Mary rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Dorie
Mark has a new stepfather, and a new home in a new town, far away from his father. His mother is ill, and there is nothing to occupy his time. He has no friends in the town yet, and Brighton has pretty much closed up for the winter. So Mark spends his days practicing his skateboarding and annoying his stepfather David. I remember what it was like to fit the rest of your world into your own perspective. To have that one person you didn’t want to like, so in your immaturity you made him the enemy ...more
Arlene
I usually judge a book by its cover, and this cover does not disappoint. I also judge a book by its first few paragraphs, and the prologue of the book is inviting enough. I also finished it in one night, reading into the early hours of the morning, so it is enthralling and compelling. But all through my reading, I didn't quite get completely lost in the characters and story. As I read, I found myself thinking, here is a writer's gimmick, here is where the upstairs and downstairs entwine, here's ...more
Kenci
I think I would have liked The Servants better if I had been able to read it in one sitting. In putting down and picking it back up, I felt like I lost the thread of the narrative and certainly any ambiance and suspense that was building. Overall, the writing was good and there were moments that drew me any - Mark venturing into the servants quarters on his own for the first time - but I never could get over my dislike for the protagonist. This made it hard to sympathize and care what happened. ...more
Blair
I didn't actually realise this was aimed at children (I picked it up in the adults' section of the library and the plain jacket didn't give much away) and probably wouldn't have read it if I'd known this from the start. Given this fact, it's no surprise that I found it all a bit silly and obvious. The titular servants, who initially appeared to be some kind of ghostly or supernatural presence, turned out to be a rather bizarre metaphor for Mark's mother's cancer, although how on earth Mark's ass ...more
Clarice
I found out about this book through Emma Bull as it was nominated for the World Fantasy Awards and she believed it to be a worthwhile story. I have to agree. Although many Goodreads users believe that this work had an emotionally immature tone to it and a cutesy storyline, I don't know... I thought it was moving. It is from the point of view of an eleven year old, and it is limited to his perspective on things with a very brief early introduction by an older woman.

I'm not sure that the intro by
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Jackie
This quick little read is reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode--a young boy finds himself displaced in a huge old house in Brighton, England with a new step-father he can't stand and an ailing mother. He befriends the little old lady who lives in the basement, and she literally gives him a key to an experience both strange and addictive. It seems like a straight up ghost story at first, but then something REALLY strange happens and it becomes....fantasy? Science fiction? A bit of both? It's me ...more
Paul
The Servants is the story of an 11-year-old boy, his mum and stepdad. They've moved from London to Brighton into a house with an old lady living in a tiny flat in the basement. Mark, the boy, accidentally befriends her and she shows him something quite amazing.

I love this book for two reasons. First it's a very simple tale told well. Most of the action concerns four characters and takes place in the house. It's told from Mark's pov so the writing is straightforward but that makes it clear, spare
...more
Caitlin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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
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