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Murkmere (Murkmere Hall #1)

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  478 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Aggie's life in the village is as normal and dull as any girl's; she has never questioned the rule of the Ministration or the power of the divine beings-the birds. Then, the crippled master of the nearby manor, Murkmere, sends for Aggie to become a lady's companion to his ward, Leah. Aggie accepts and even starts to befriend the wild and strange girl who seems to want noth ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Little, Brown Young Readers (first published May 13th 2004)
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Jul 12, 2015 Holly rated it really liked it
I went in expecting a gothic and instead got a dark fantasy - though there was actually only implied magic - none that we see. The book is set in a fantasy land heavily based on historical England, though there doesn't seem to be a clear time period it's based on. I enjoyed Murkmere, but I'm not really into books wholly set in fantasy worlds, to be quite honest.
Jan 11, 2009 Jaemi rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya-fiction
Aggie Cotter grew up in a world where birds meant everything. There's an entire Table of Significance about them in fact. And she has it memorized. You see, in Aggie's world, the Almighty is the Eagle. There are Birds of Light and Birds of Night, and one must carry protection against the latter, so as not to risk harm to one's soul.

There is a story of a people called the avia--people who were not content with their lot, who longed to sore with the birds, to leave the earth behind for the sky. It
Jul 17, 2008 Carmen rated it it was ok
Great setting, Wrong Point of View

Clouds hang low in the sky where I live. They seem to touch the flat brown fields around our village, and to shadow the broad backs of the horses pulling the plow.

From the opening sentence I was trapped in the dark, oppressing world Patricia Elliot so convincingly creates in Murkmere.

This is a world where the search for knowledge is severely punished and birds are worshiped as gods; their wishes, mysteriously translated by an inbreeding elite called the Ministra
Jan 24, 2009 Bad rated it really liked it
This book was just what I needed right now. The dark setting of the decaying Murkmere estate, and the development of strong bonds between two young women kept me turning the pages.

The religious values created for this novel were quite interesting. The villagers worship the birds, and there is a dark, and a light side to their deities. The eagle (for instance) is considered "the almighty", the creator... and each bird below the eagle has it's own "meaning" and is either a member of the birds of
Apr 09, 2009 Whitney rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of the secret garden. There is a secret and a family that is kinda outcast or misunderstood. There is a girl that comes in and befriends the wild child, who has a fascination with birds. The mother is gone, the father crippled, and a society with very strict rules. The leaders (both spiritual and temporal) of this society are called the "Ministration." Their organization and complete power/control reminds me of the Magistirium of the Golden Compass series. I think this stor ...more
Leah Lucci
Oct 03, 2011 Leah Lucci rated it really liked it
The protagonist of this book follows a religion that involves worshipping birds, wearing protective amulets, and not going outside at night. It's government-sanctioned and spooky. At first, I thought that the book was set in a parallel fantasy dimension, but there are moments here and there that, quite possibly, (spoiler alert) indicate that this is a science fiction dystopia a la Handmaid's Tale.

The book's excellent up until the last 30 pages or so, when it sort of crumbles and leaves a very v
Angela Oliver
Dec 30, 2014 Angela Oliver rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, engaging and enjoyable.
Tati Dengo
May 05, 2017 Tati Dengo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic, mighty-girls
Murkmere is an excellent addition to the gothic genre of secluded manor houses tainted by tragic, mysterious pasts.

What makes this book stand out from the Rebeccas and the Jane Eyres is its world building about an oppressive theocratic regime based on the symbolism of birds. There's a ton of material there to plague these characters' minds with superstition.

Even though I could accurately predict a lot of the "shocking reveals" (this is an unfortunately repetitive genre, after all), my attentio
Mar 05, 2008 Juushika rated it liked it
Shelves: status-borrowed
In a land where the Eagle is God and bird omens determine the course of human life, young Aggie Cotter leaves her village for the nearby estate, Murkmere, where she will be companion to Leah, the willful ward of the estate's Master. As she struggles to gain acceptance, Aggie begins to suspect that nothing is what she thought or as it seemed: not Leah, who disregards the superstitions of faith and has an unnatural bond with the mere's swans—nor Aggie's family, or the religion and government that ...more
Sian Rips
Feb 24, 2013 Sian Rips rated it really liked it
Taking place at the mysterious mansion at the edge of the city, Aggie is sent to care for an even more mysterious girl. Having grown up in the village, under loose surveillance of the Ministry, Aggie lived in suspicion, along with the rest of the citizens, of what lay beyond the iron gates. As if pushing her curiosity, Aggie was thus thrown into a wild world of continuous rebellion, mysteries, and teachings as she continued her new life in Murkmere, a place with secrets of it's own. The stranges ...more
Jun 27, 2012 Celena rated it it was amazing
Recently I've wanted to reread a few books I read when I was a lot younger that I can't really remember anymore. This was one of them.

For the life of me, I don't know how I forgot it.

Murkmere is about 15 year old Aggie who lives with her Aunt in a small village. She's summoned by the Master of a nearby manor, Murkmere, to come and be companion to his ward, Leah. Murkmere is a a really dark place, pretty eerie and no one is friendly to Aggie (especially not Leah who doesn't want her there.) But t
Jan 15, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
In Aggie Cotter’s world, birds are at the heart of everything. She has spent much of her life learning about and memorizing the Birds of Light and the Birds of Night, as well as their meanings. History tells the story of a group of people known as the Avia that wanted to fly with the birds. It is said that the Avia were punished by the Almighty, forced to live life as half-human and half-bird. Aggie lives by the Table of Significance, keeping her amber close for protection; then she meets Leah a ...more
Feb 17, 2008 Ealaindraoi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, 2008
Jane Eyre meets The Golden Compass....

Aggie is offered a job at Murkmere manor to be a lady’s companion to the Lord’s ward, Leah. She accepts the job because she can then send money back to her Aunt Jennet. Her mother worked at Murkmere before her death and she thinks that if she knows more about Murkmere, she’d know more about her mother. But Leah is so strange, wild and moody and she has a strange bond with the swans on the estate. The Master is trapped in a caged wheelchair and has blasphemou
I would probably give this three and a half stars. There was a lot to like about the novel. It had a dark, creepy feeling to it, and Elliot definitely knows how to build suspense and tension within the story. I also like when a character grows and changes over the course of the story, and Aggie certainly does. I also thought the writing in general was beautiful. The opening paragraph was quite lovely and indicative of what was to come.

I have never been the biggest fan of stories that are narrate
Sep 20, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Murkmere is really two stories at once. It is the story of Aggie's coming of age, of her realization that the world is much more complex than it seemed, and it is the puzzle of Leah, and who she is. Leah may or may not be related to the swans of Murkmere, a dark and dreary manor, but she has some kind of relationship with them. Aggie, who has grown up with a simple view of the world, is unsure what to make of Leah or Murkmere, and finds her understanding of the world radically changed by her int ...more
Aug 28, 2008 Jen rated it liked it
*spoiler alert*

This book is an interesting read. I felt like it was dark, so I would read it before you shared it with your children. When I started to read it I thought it might be along the lines of "The Golden Compass" where religion is slavery, and the "ministration" is a group of religious hypocritical zealots. However, in the end I decided that happily enough, that wasn't the message.
In the book a people called the "avia" were long ago punished by God for wanting to fly like the birds.
Feb 11, 2013 Evelyn rated it it was ok
A disappointment. The cover is rather wonderful; the book contained within, less so. Let me state that while I have nothing against charming pretty redheaded bookworms in real life, as main characters they are cliche. Let me also state that by page twenty I knew how the story was going to go: (view spoiler) ...more
Kelsie Beaudoin (The Bookworm)
Aug 06, 2014 Kelsie Beaudoin (The Bookworm) rated it really liked it
I picked this book up on a whim, when I was thinking I needed a plethora of books for the vacation I was taking. As it turned out I ended up reading this book before I left. I read it in just a few hours.

The cover is gorgeous. Smooth and compelling, beautiful and haunting. I judge books by their covers. Get over it.

The story was interesting, very gothic with the decaying manor and sense of oppression. The character development was awesome, and the developing relationship between the to girls in
Jan 24, 2017 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-challenge
I think this was a book I inherited somewhere along the way, so it's been sitting on my shelf without me really knowing what it was supposed to be about. I was pleasantly surprised upon reading it - it was better than whatever unknown I had expected it to be. Although a relatively simple story on the outside, a number of deeper themes run throughout the text: the meaning and practice of religious piety, the sinister ways in which political power can play out, the finding and accepting of identit ...more
This story opens with strictly devout Agnes Cotter being sent to Murkmere Manor to become companion to the Master's ward, Leah. Agnes, being raised to be fearful of the Manor, is just glad to get away from the the village she was raised in.

But something's not quite right at the Manor. Leah is resistant to Agnes' presence and is openly hostile. And Agnes isn't making many friends in the house. She is deeply troubled by the lack of religious devotion shown by Leah and the Master.

Eventually, Leah c
May 12, 2009 Asenath rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya-lit, fantasy
The writing drove me crazy. I couldn’t read it. The story was interesting enough, so I skimmed the entire book, really reading only the dialogue. I can’t even put my finger on what exactly it was that was wrong. I think the author used to many ‘to be’ verbs, and they didn’t show the action--just referred back to it. I also thought the characters main goals were weak, and there wasn’t much character growth from the narrator. It was an interesting story, that could have had some real depth, had it ...more
May 20, 2009 Lu rated it it was ok
This book has some dark elements to it--sort of a darker version of The Goose Girl. The bad guys come across as truly sinister so if you don't like reading about that kind of bad guy, don't bother with this book. I think I might like the second book better because the characters are set up so ideally for an interesting plot next time.

Actually, it reminded me in a way of Wurthering Heights and Jane Eyere--damp manner house, mysterious men who are slightly cruel or haunted or whatever you want to
Oct 06, 2007 Lea rated it it was amazing
I first read this book probably about ten years ago. I remember loving it and it being one of my favorites. I remember it being haunting and fantastical. When I was having difficulty find the perfect book to read, I decided to re-read this book. I’m so glad I did, because I couldn’t remember the plot twists or anything like that. It was as if I was reading it for the first time and I loved it just as much. This is an YA, gothic fantasy and it is just lovely. The author really created a story wit ...more
Selah Bell
Sep 30, 2012 Selah Bell rated it liked it
This is a world where birds are worshipped as Gods, and anyone who talks about them is in danger of being 'blasphemous'. Aggie is a simple village girl, but when she is summoned to be companion to the Master's ward, her life changes. Leah does not want anything to do with her, and the servants of the manor do not like her. Leah is a strange girl. She is obsessed with the swans of the mere, and takes any chance to slip away from her maid and companion to be with them. Can Aggie discover why, befo ...more
Sep 30, 2012 Belle rated it liked it
This is a world where birds are worshipped as Gods, and anyone who talks about them is in danger of being 'blasphemous'. Aggie is a simple village girl, but when she is summoned to be companion to the Master's ward, her life changes. Leah does not want anything to do with her, and the servants of the manor do not like her. Leah is a strange girl. She is obsessed with the swans of the mere, and takes any chance to slip away from her maid and companion to be with them. Can Aggie discover why, befo ...more
Jan 14, 2016 Rosa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
It would be remiss to not explain why, out of the blue, I looked up this book and gave it a backdated 5 stars. To be frank, if I reread it now, I'm not sure if I would still give it such a high rating. But, rating it solely from memory:

Yes. Yes, I would. Even now I remember the lonely beauty of the prose - one of the first books to make me aware of the impact prose could have. Even now I remember loving that the POV character was tangental to the politics of the world, perhaps, but her personal
Potrays how naive the citizens of a country can be under the spell of so called "religion that purifies n strengthens one's soul"...Filthy politics which murders innocent beings behind the shadows of their power over the people n their mind...totally cruel ppl starving for power n money...a good read for those who wants to explore the true colour of human beings...this is a story that deals with greed,desire and selfishness...
Jan 19, 2012 Carrie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teens and adults who enjoy fantasy
Recommended to Carrie by: Gina
A dark, gothic fantasy with a beautifully melancholy setting. Mystery intertwines with the romance element as the people at Murkmere Estate are not always what they seem. I was fascinated by the fictional religion dominant at Murkmere and surrounding villages, based on each species of bird having a different prophetic significance. A satisfying read if you're looking for a stormy-night kind of fantasy.
Elizabeth C.
This dark historical fantasy sets the story of the swan maiden in an England-like setting twisted by political intrigue and religious oppression. Aggie takes a job as companion to the ward of the Master of Murkmere, the odd, mysterious Leah, and quickly realizes something is very wrong at the spooky old estate.

Why? For those can’t get enough creepy historical fantasy (or those who thought CURSE wasn’t dark enough).
Jul 10, 2009 Trisha rated it liked it
I think NORMALLY i would have liked this book more. I seemed like a book I would normally love. I also have no complaints against it and the story will probably stick in my mind well for a while it just didn't click with me this time. Probably because I'm prego and wasn't in the mood. Good book though. I'll probably read it again later just to see if my theory is correct.
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Patricia Elliott was born in London and grew up in Europe and the Far East. She has worked in publishing in London and in a children's bookshop in New York. She now teaches a course in children's literature at an adult education college. She lives in London with her husband, two sons, and a yellow labrodor named Finagal.
More about Patricia Elliott...

Other Books in the Series

Murkmere Hall (2 books)
  • Ambergate (Murkmere Hall, #2)

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