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The Servants by Michael Marshall Smith

The Servants

by Michael Marshall Smith

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2051983,391 (3.27)10


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Billed as a modern day ghost story, I enjoyed Mark's "below stairs" paranormal experiences, even if parts were on the strange side. The fact that Mark can see the spirit servants (and they can see him) makes for a level of creepiness but not in an immediately horrific, scary kind of way. Loved the Brighton setting (even if it is the off season), the old house and the little old lady who lives downstairs (every seaside story should have such a neighbour). Given that the story is told from Mark's point of view, there is a lot of adult information and conversations the reader is not privy to, so it takes a while to figure out what is wrong with Mark's mother. For me, Smith has captured the anger, frustration and loneliness a young child must experience when his family life has suddenly turned upside down and he is not privy to all the details about his mom. As for what is wrong with the house, you will have to read the book to find out (I will give you a hint: That is probably why some readers have tagged this story as a horror).

Overall, a different coming-of-age/YA story that may appeal to readers who like stories set in Brighton, or enjoy ghost stories with a fair bit of symbolism built in. ( )
  lkernagh | Oct 29, 2018 |
  ThaiEL | Oct 27, 2017 |
Mark has a new stepfather, and a new home in a new town, far away from his father. His mother is ill, and there is nothing to occupy his time. He has no friends in the town yet, and Brighton has pretty much closed up for the winter. So Mark spends his days practicing his skateboarding and annoying his stepfather David. I remember what it was like to fit the rest of your world into your own perspective. To have that one person you didn’t want to like, so in your immaturity you made him the enemy of your life, constantly scheming against you. The smallest things would be completely blown out of proportion, because life was, after all, a huge conspiracy against you. I don’t miss those years, but I remember them. And reading this book, relived them again. Unfortunately the resolution to the story didn’t make any sense to me. That was a big drawback to my enjoyment of the book overall. ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
Is it just a simple story, or is it many simple layers forming something complex, or is it all one complex layer? This is the second Michael Marshall Smith I've read, and although I didn't enjoy this one as much as [b:Only Forward|920395|Only Forward|Michael Marshall Smith|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1179461861s/920395.jpg|123899], it was a good read. It left me with some stuff to think about, always a good thing in a book ( )
  GinnyTea | Mar 31, 2013 |
Eleven-year-old Mark has moved to a large eighteenth century house on the Brighton seafront with his seriously ill mother and his new stepfather. For some reason Mark hasn't started school in Brighton, so his days are sent learning to skateboard and trying to get the better of his stepfather. Not realising how ill his mother is, Mark thinks his stepfather is deliberately preventing his mother from doing anything interesting, and restricting Mark's access to her.

But once Mark meets the old lady who rents the basement flat in their house, he finds that strange things happen when he goes through the door from her flat into the unconverted servants' quarters.

This short book was a birthday or Christmas present from my brother. The author is new to me, but apparently he mostly writes science fiction, so this ghost story was a bit of a departure for him. It has been nominated for both the British and World Fantasy Awards.

Spooky but not scary, "The Servants" is a book that grew on me as it went along. The only thing that annoyed me about it was that house was described using the American usage 1st floor/2nd floor instead of ground floor/1st floor. Since the house was in England and Mark was English, it really jarred. ( )
  isabelx | Apr 27, 2011 |
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Mark sat on a ridge of pebbles and watched as the colours over the sea started to turn.
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Book description
Eleven year old Mark lives with his mum and new step father in a house in Brighton. He misses his dad and his friends in London. When he meets the elderly lady who lives in the basement flat underneath his new house she draws him into a mystery, but are there really ghosts in the cellar or is Mark's imagination and desperation to escape his problems and his mother's illness running away with him?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006149416X, Paperback)

For young Mark, the world has turned as bleak and gray as the Brighton winter. Separated from his real father and home in London, he's come to live with his mother and her new husband in an old house near the sea. He spends his days alone, trying to master the skateboard, while other boys his age are in school. He hates the unwanted stepfather who barged into Mark's life to rob him of joy. Worst of all, his once-vibrant mother has grown listless and weary, no longer interested in anything beyond her sitting room.

But on a damp and chilly evening, an accident carries Mark into the basement flat of the old woman who lives at the bottom of his stepfather's house. She offers tea, cakes, and sympathy . . . and the key to a secret, bygone world. Mark becomes caught up in the frenetic bustle of the human machinery that once ran a home, and drawn ever deeper into a lost realm of spirits and memory. Here below the suffocating truths, beneath the pain and unhappiness, he finds an escape, and quite possibly a way to change everything.

A richly evocative, poignantly beautiful modern-day ghost story, The Servants marks the triumphant return of Michael Marshall Smith—the first novel in a decade from the multiple award-winning author of Spares.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

After 11-year-old Mark moves with his ill mother and hated stepfather to the English resort town Brighton, he discovers that their new house holds a secret: in the long unused servants' quarters, the past is alive, and the servants are still at work. To restore harmony to his home, Mark has to venture into the servants' quarters and fix what has broken.… (more)

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Average: (3.27)
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1.5 1
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