Book Review: The House of Dead Maids

Book Review: The House of Dead MaidsThe House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on September 14th 2010
Pages: 146

Young Tabby Aykroyd has been brought to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be nursemaid to a foundling boy. He is a savage little creature, but the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse, as Tabby soon discovers. The ghost of the last maid will not leave Tabby in peace, yet this spirit is only one of many. Why do scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House with a jealous devotion that extends beyond the grave?

As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces rising out of the land, she watches her young charge choose a different path. He is determined to keep Seldom House as his own. Though Tabby tries to befriend the uncouth urchin, her kindness cannot alter his fate. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the boy who will become Heathcliff has doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.

The House of Dead Maids is a spine-tingling masterpiece. Told as a prequel to Bronte's Wuthering Heights, the reader is introduced to a young Heathcliff through the eyes of the Tabby. While Tabby is a great character, seeing a young Heathcliff was in itself quite a treat.
The House of Dead Maids is quite a unique novel. Part classic novel continuation and part delicious Gothic novel with the hint of paranormal. The tale is told beautifully. Now, readers, I must forewarn you. This novel is definitely not for the faint of heart. With sweeping moors and things that go bump in the night, Dunkle's writing gave me the chills. Literally.
The only issue I have with the novel is I am not sure who the intended audience is. Dunkle's writing is beautiful, but often times overly complex. Which would not be so bad if the characters were not so young. Due to this, it is hard to recommend this novel to readers of all ages. However, for those of you who loved Wuthering Heights or are interested in Gothic Victorian novels will surely find The House of Dead Maids to be a pure treat.
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