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The Poisoned House

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,468 ratings  ·  278 reviews
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 i ...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Albert Whitman & Company (first published August 2nd 2010)
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Charlotte hold on let me think, hmm.......... BARELY
Jrussel24 yes, there isn't any explicit language and it's not scary.
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,468 ratings  ·  278 reviews

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i have got to stop reading mediocre books. this was my second in a row, and it is making me cranky.

i am trying to only read spooky books for october, and i thought this would be a good place to start. (it is also my first YA book in a month - did you miss me, YA publishing industry?)

but then i remembered: i don't find ghosts particularly spooky. and the ghost in this one is more of the casper the friendly helpful ghost variety rather than the "boo, i'm gonna getcha" kind. the people in this boo
Wendy Darling
A haunted house, a forbidding lady, a master who has gone mad, and a servant girl caught up in the middle of the whole mess. If this premise appeals to you, there's no doubt you'll delight in this book. I'm a big fan of Victorian fiction, and the author does a superb job of making the era come alive and keeping the language and decorum pretty true to the period.

Abigail Tamper is a 14-year-old servant at Greave Hall, where she's lived all of her life. Her mother died under mysterious circumstance
Leanna (daisychainbooks)
Greave Hall, the setting for The Poisoned House is one of those creepy, atmospheric old houses that can send shivers down your spine as soon as you step inside it‘s doors. Full of creaking floorboards, creepy cobweb-filled cellars and things that go bump in the night, it holds a lot of dark secrets. It is also home to Abigail Tamper, a teenage servant girl who we first meet as she tries to make her escape from the house. She is soon captured and returned to the clutches of Mrs. Cotton, a menacin ...more
Paige  Bookdragon

Really. The only reason why I finished reading this book is because I want to give this book a chance to scare me.

You know, the made-my-hair-raised-and-make-me-cover-myself-with-blankets-when-I-sleep kind of scare.

But noooo~

I was disappointed.

And get this.

There's a scene here where one of the characters drown three cute kittens just because she's a bitch!


And what the hell happened to Mrs. Cotton?!
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creepy ghosts and a well-written mystery. Although I figured out the twists a chapter or two before the main character, it was a near thing, and the twists caught me entirely by surprise when I figured them out. A great October read.
3.5 stars. The Poisoned House is set in Victorian London where 15 year old scullery maid Abigail Tamper has lost her mother to cholera. She works in the home of the aging widower Lord Greave who is becoming more and more distant and seems to be losing his sanity. His sister-in-law, Mrs. Cotton is the head house keeper and has pretty much taken over the household, acting as if it belongs to her, while being incredibly mean and nasty to Abigail. Lord Greave's son Samuel is off fighting in the Crim ...more
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A easy smooth read that has plenty of murder, mystery, ghosts, and drama. With a huge plot twist I didn't see coming and a great ending this book was a fun read.
* 3.5 stars *

I LOVE a gothic Victorian ghost story, so when The Poisoned House by Michael Ford dropped through my mailbox for review I was very excited and sure it would be right up my street. And mostly it was.

Set in Victorian London, The Poisoned House tells the story of fifteen-year-old Abi Tamper. Since her mother’s death a year ago, Abi has found herself in the lowly position of scullery maid in the Greave household. Previously the well treat daughter of the much loved nursemaid, without he
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
YA Victorian mystery. A ghost's appearances in a house give clues that help solve a family mystery. A quick, entertaining read. 
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maria by: The teen section in the library.
Ok so, this is my first review on ANY book actually. So, it might be rather long & unfinished as well, cause well, I like to write and sometimes my essays & notes come out to be a little TOO long. And this might be too. So, I'll just get started on my opinion on this AWESOME book!:

COVER: When I first saw the cover at the library, the thing that drew me in the most was the hand reaching out for help. And of course, the little block letters written underneath the title: A GHOST STORY. And anyone w
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll start off by saying that this book was in no way scary or creepy, which left me feeling mildly disappointed. Nevertheless, the historical setting added a certain type of dark atmosphere; that sort of strange, murky feeling that I tend to associate with certain time periods. As for the plot itself, it sadly wasn't anything groundbreaking or core shaking, so in a sense I'm glad it was such a short read
Tara Chevrestt
A decent yarn. I found this entertaining, mysterious, and dark.

Abigail is a servant in the home of wealthy man. There's an invalid son coming back from war, a wealthy man dying of grief, a cruel housekeeper, a cook that drinks the cooking sherry (figure of speech), a butler hiding his master's secrets, and a maid that is dallying with another families' coachman. It's all the workings for a good scandalous mystery.

Except for one incident, the story never even leaves the house. This did not hurt
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
First of all, if this is supposed to be from Abigail's journal, it should read in SOME way like a journal.

Second, it just wasn't that in-depth. The historical info was good, like how they washed windows or clothes, but felt tacked onto the story.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad tale for a teen fiction book
Stephanie A.
To paraphrase Crimson Peak, this less a ghost story than a story that happens to have a ghost in it. Mostly, it's a great, if darker, tale of working in a stately manor and seeing firsthand how wealth, power and societal conventions get all tangled up and twisted under the right (or wrong) circumstances. The atmosphere was everything I dream of in books about spooky historic houses; I could see it all playing out like a movie in my head. I only predicted a couple of twists, and only just before ...more
Small Review
Originally posted at Small Review

A recipe for success

All of the ingredients for a great Gothic story were present here. You have the master of the house, slowly going mad and harboring a dark secret, the evil housekeeper, a ghostly presence, the attractive son returned injured from war, a murder mystery, and the plucky scullery maid caught up in the middle of it all in a spooky old mansion. Sounds good, right? And it was. Except it also wasn't.

The good

Abi is easy to like, though I sometimes wond
I mentioned in an earlier review that I really enjoy books set in England. When I was looking at titles on Netgalley and saw The Poisoned House by Michael Ford, it was not only set in London, but Victorian London AND it was a ghost story. Also, super creepy cover art. I had to request it.

The Poisoned House starts off very cleverly. Old diary-like pages were found in a locked drawer and donated to a library. They tell a fantastical tale, but the events were so long ago. Did they really happen as
Jul 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, 2011, age-ya, paranormal
I read this ARC via Netgalley.

Abigail Tamper hates her life as a servant in Victorian England. Ever since her mother died a year ago, she went from being a carefree child allowed to play with her master, Lord Greaves's son Samuel, to a person of no status whatsoever, constantly beaten and abused by the housemistress Mrs. Cotton. After a failed runaway attempt, Abigail begins to notice strange goings-on in the house: handprints that appear on freshly cleaned glass, missing objects, and messes tha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A Book Vacation
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*
An eerie, enjoyable read. Believable storyline and characters. Reminded me a bit of the Downton Abbey series that was on TV not so long ago, but with a ghostly presence lurking in the corridors of the large stately home. A paranormal gothic style story, with some nice descriptions of times past. Would definately read more from Michael Ford in the future.
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the perfect book to read on a wet, cold rather miserable day. This is a gothic, ghost story set in Victorian england. Abi is a servant who has lost her mother and finds herself at the mercy of the wicked housekeeper. This story is full of mystery and secrets. I loved this book. Its dark and gloomy setting was perfect for a ghost story. If you want a good ghost story look no further
a mediocre ghost story in which the haunting only affects one person directly, and the others it affects are irrelevant to its issues. a few hanging threads that are likewise unnecessary to the plot. Atmospheric but that's about all it has going for it.
linnea h.
What? Happily ever after? The heck happened to my ghost? I was seriously enjoying this until the end. Not cool.
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: egalleys
Check out reviews and more on my blog: Paper Cuts.

Guys, I am not a mystery fan. But, when I read the synopsis for The Poisoned House on Netgalley, it sounded very interesting, and I figured I'd give it a try. I was so pleasantly surprised.

Abigail Tamper is the lowliest of the low in stately Greave Hall. As the scullery maid, she is subject to the wrath of the cruel housekeeper Mrs. Cotton. The master of the house, Lord Greave, is rapidly sinking into madness, and her one protector, Samuel Greave
Gwenyth Love
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Older YA
Shelves: netgalley
Originally published at

My Thoughts

Michael Ford did a brilliant job writing a realistic story placed in Victorian times. It is so easy to immerse oneself into the daily comings and goings of Greave Hall, following the actions and duties of Abi as she rises in the morning to stoke the fires, as she rushes about from room to room scrubbing the windows clean, and as she finally retires to her tiny room tucked up in the far corners of the attic, away from sigh
Tammy Dotts
London in the mid 1850s. A manor house governed by a stern housekeeper while the Lord of the house slowly goes mad. A soldier who loses a leg upon his return from the Crimean War. Secrets and strange bumps in the night. Clothes and furniture that move when no when watches. And at the center of it all, a 15-year-old scullery maid, unaware of the secrets that surround her.

Michael Ford’s The Poisoned House trots out nearly every trope found in a Gothic novel. The target young adult reader may be ne
Jessica (Jess Hearts Books)
I had this book sent to me from Bloomsbury to review a week or so ago and I was immediately excited to read it. The cover intrigued me and the synopsis sounded right up my street so I moved it up to the top of my To Be Read pile and picked it up this weekend when it was rather miserable and rainy and I fancied a creepy historical fiction novel and I was very pleasantly surprised by this book.

Having never read anything by Michael Ford before I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this but I lov
I just can't get enough of thrilling supernatural stories these days, and the fact that The Poisoned House combined that with historical fiction was just too much for me to stay away from. When I started reading The Poisoned House, it had the feel of Clue--only set in an earlier time period, and with the inclusion of a ghost. It stopped feeling like that about half-way through, but I loved that connection in the beginning.

The historical aspect is beautifully done with vivid descriptions of life
Raven Lucero
Mar 16, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to YA horror, it's really hit or miss. There's some really good, like The Monstrumologist and The Dead House, and then there's the really bad, like Asylum and Possessions. The Poisoned House, sadly, falls in the latter category.

The main adjective you think of when you hear the word "horror" is most likely scary. That's where The Poisoned House really fails. Every scene in which the ghost shows up did nothing for me because I knew exactly who the ghost was. In fact, that's my other
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Michael Ford was born in 1980 in the north of England, and studied Classics and English at Oxford University.

He worked in a variety of publishing roles before becoming an editor of adult fiction. He has written several novels and non-fiction books for children, including the SPARTAN series for Bloomsbury UK.

He lives with his wife in London.

Librarian's Note: There are authors with similar names on

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