A uniquely dark and elegant tale that illuminates the loneliness of childhood, the pain of loss and the power of imagination. It will charm and haunt its readers in equal measure.
Eleven-year-old Mark is bored. He spends his days on the Brighton sea-front, practicing on his skate-board. His mother is too ill to leave the house, and his stepfather is determined that Mark shouldn’t disturb her. So when the old lady who lives in the flat downstairs introduces him to rock cakes and offers to show him a secret, he’s happy to indulge her.
The old lady takes a large, old-fashioned key and leads Mark down a dusty corridor to a heavy door. Beyond the door is a world completely alien to Mark’s understanding. For behind the old lady’s tiny apartment, the house’s original servants’ quarters are still entirely intact, although derelict. Mark finds himself strangely drawn to this window onto the past, and when, the next time he visits, the old lady falls asleep, he steals the key and goes to visit the servants’ quarters alone.
And suddenly Mark’s life takes a bizarre turn, as the past seems to collide with the present, dreams invade reality and truths become apparent to this hitherto unperceiving boy.
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Talk about a protean career! The writer Michael Marshall, one might think, already has more than enough strings to his bow: As Michael Marshall Smith, he created some of the most inventive and quirky of cutting-edge science fiction novels; dropping the ‘Smith’ (as Michael Marshall), his bestselling crime fiction is among the most technically adroit and pulse-racing in the field. But here he is with yet another hat on – and as M M Smith, he proves to be just as accomplished a writer for younger readers. The Servants is an absolute spellbinder: a wonderfully engaging yarn that will rivet the attention of both younger readers and those adults lucky enough to pick it up.
11-year-old Mark is well aware – even at this tender age – of the fragility and insecurity of life. After his move from the bustle of London to the more bracing seaside air of Brighton in the winter, he finds he is not enjoying himself. His mother’s illness is distressing, and, worse, he cannot stand his new stepfather. The house he lives in is a strange place, with, what’s more, a strange elderly woman in the basement. The sands of reality are about to shift for the vulnerable Mark, and he may have to rely for help on some people who may not even be real.
Smith’s mastery of the fantasy genre is, thankfully, a skill he has not allowed to wither on the vine, and this is intelligent, allusive writing; both disturbing and evocative. Let’s hope MM/Michael/Marshall/Smith finds time to revisit the genre in between his flesh-creeping adult thrillers. --Barry ForshawReview:
‘Superb, offbeat contemporary fantasy ... Smith portrays a child's irrational anger with devastating accuracy, and Mark's visits to the surreal and intensely symbolic world of the servants are powerfully depicted’ Publishers Weekly, starred review
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. No.1 BESTSELLERS - great prices, friendly customer service â€" all orders are dispatched next working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000492698
Book Description Harper Collins, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007261934
Book Description Harper Collins, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0007261934
Book Description Harper Collins, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 7261934