Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Poisoned House” as Want to Read:
The Poisoned House
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Poisoned House

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,391 ratings  ·  268 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Poisoned House, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Charlotte hold on let me think, hmm.......... BARELY
Jrussel24 yes, there isn't any explicit language and it's not scary.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default

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
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?!
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
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.
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. 
Maria - (STOP adding me to [roleplaying] groups; even if i accept, i will NOT participate!)
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maria - (STOP adding me to [roleplaying] groups; even if i accept, i will NOT participate!) 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
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
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
Jul 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
* 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
The Poisoned House has all the right elements for a Gothic Victorian ghost story - from the creepy house and a heroine with a tragic history to the cruel housekeeper and dashing son of the household. Combine that with really great writing and you get a fantastic book that's just perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The story starts with plucky young Abi, the servant girl, running away from Greave Hall. She's soon found and returned to her employer's home. It's not the master of the house - who's
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, ibooks
13 SEP 2016 - a twisty mystery.

Update - 13 SEP 2016 - In response to a LIKE from Cheryl, I wanted to add this to my review: Thank you, Cheryl. This is a good mystery filled with descriptive writing, and peopled with good and very bad characters. While not a must-read, if your library has a copy, give it a try. What Bettie and I call a "palate cleanser."
Melanie McCullough
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This one gets 4 stars for the simple fact that I began reading it right before bedtime and stayed up until after 2am to finish. I really should start rating books based upon how many hours of my precious sleep time I'm willing to sacrifice.

The Poisoned House, had me turning pages into the wee hours of the morning because even though there were enough clues for me to figure out who was responsible, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. And to be honest, I didn't want it to be true so I k
The Poisoned House is an eery tale embellished on the real life documents of a girl in 1855 that were found in an attic. That was initially what caught my attention. I love stories set in this time period, and it proved to be a delightfully engrossing and entertaining read.

While the storyline isn't exactly what I'd call original, the execution was fantastic. Robert Ford built a world so vivid it was easy to picture each occurance, and understand each emotion of our leading girl, Abigail. Secrets
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fictional Bookshelf
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-books
The Poisoned House is a rare treat. The YA tale is based in the 1850s with a Victorian feel but it gets even better. It’s a paranormal filled with ghostly happenings and an evil monster that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending.

Abi, the main character, guides us through a wonderful tale filled with sorrow, mystery and death. She overcomes and adapts to the horrible life she lived. Then an angry ghost saves her from the evil that plagues Greave Hall giving her life a w
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Hunting Ground
  • The Dark Lantern
  • Florence & Giles
  • Constable & Toop
  • The Uninvited
  • Hunted (The Shadowing, #1)
  • The House of Lost Souls
  • Whisper My Name
  • Folly
  • The Mesmerist (The Mesmerist, #1)
  • Picture the Dead
  • White Crow
  • Captivity
  • Long Lankin (Long Lankin, #1)
  • The House of Dead Maids
  • Ghost on Black Mountain
  • The Revenant
  • Beyond: A Ghost Story
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
“It’s strange how fear works. It suddenly stands at your shoulder, and slides its arm around you. Its fist closes on your heart.” 2 likes
More quotes…