The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle – Book Review

This being the month of October, I thought that I would review this book, since it’s full of chills and thrills. As a Gothic novel, it follows that there are mysteries, darkness and evil that stalk the characters. Just to let you know, this is a Young Adult novel, and is also quite short.  However, the length of the book works in it’s favor, as the movement is fast-paced.  The novel follows Tabby Aykroyd, an eleven year old unwanted orphan who luckily finds herself at Ma Hutton’s knitting school. This small happiness doesn’t last long when she is chosen to be a nursemaid at Seldom House on the edge of the moors.

Here Tabby’s luck runs out as she begins her new position as nursemaid to an untamed little boy with no name, who will become Heathcliff (from Wuthering Heights). Seldom House is remote and full of both secrets and darkness. When Tabby questions the odd happenings, she is ignored and left in the dark (both figuratively and literally).

The novel builds both tension and suspense wonderfully, leaving the reader turning pages as fast as possible – who doesn’t want to solve a good mystery? I don’t read creepy Gothic novels very often, so this one was a pleasure. Dunkle really captured the feel of the Bronte novels; she kept me trying to discover the “truth” of the mystery, and kept me interested until the very end. All I can say is, no wonder Heathcliff had “issues”.

One of the creepier aspects of this novel is the note at the end of the book.  Apparently Tabby Aykroyd was a real person and in her older years was a nursemaid who helped to raise the Bronte’s.  She told them stories that were similar to this novel.  Dunkle used these stories as inspiration for this novel.  I find this particularly creepy and fabulous!

I highly recommend this book. I found it to be well-written and fast-paced. It would be a great novel to read for this Halloween month of chills, thrills and mysterious evil.

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