28 October 2010

The House of Dead Maids; Clare B. Dunkle

The House of Dead MaidsThe House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written as a sort of prequel to Wuthering Heights, this has just the right amount of creepiness for the Hallowe'en season.

Tabby is an orphan working at Ma Hutton's knitting school when she's 'chosen' by a woman to work in a house in some remote location. Remote means a long trip (including a boat ride), and only one village (filled with strange people) nearby. She ends up at Seldom House and isn't quite sure if she's the maid, a guest or something else. Adding to her questions is the fact that she's locked into her bedroom at night and that there's only Mrs. Winter, Arnby and Mrs. Sexton around. Oh, and then there's Izzy, also from Ma Hutton's, who seems to be a ghost.

A few days later a "heathen git" arrives. He's somehow the master of the house, and completely uncontrollable. Tabby's responsible for taking care of him, including protecting him from whatever's going on. Without spoiling this too much, let's just say that there's an escape from Seldom House and that Tabby ends up (after a while) as maid at Haworth Parsonage, home to the Brontes. That formerly nameless "heathen git" becomes Heathcliff.

As I said, there's a definite creep factor: shiver inducing, not necessarily nightmare category. The shortness of the book helps, as does the tight storytelling. If you know Wuthering Heights, the ending will make more sense but even readers who don't will enjoy it. The author has also provided a website that explains some of the mysteries/questions raised by Bronte.

ARC provided by publisher.

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