I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.MISS ABIGAIL'S ROOM by Catherine Cavendish
Published by Crossroad Press on July 8, 2018
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Gothic, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Psychological Horror, Southern Gothic, Supernatural, Suspense
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It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded. It was the way it kept coming back…
As the lowest ranking parlor maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleaning Miss Abigail’s room. There’s a strange, empty smell to the place, and a feeling that nothing right or Christian resides there in the mistress’s absence. And then there’s the blood, the spot that comes back no matter often Becky scrubs it clean. Becky wishes she had somewhere else to go, but without means or a good recommendation from her household, there is nothing for her outside the only home she’s known for eighteen years. So when a sickening doll made of wax and feathers turns up, Becky’s dreams of freedom and green grass become even more distant. Until the staff members start to die.
A darning needle though the heart of the gruesome doll puts everyone at Stonefleet Hall at odds. The head parlor maid seems like someone else, the butler pretends nothing’s amiss, and everyone thinks Becky’s losing her mind. But when the shambling old lord of the manor looks at her, why does he scream as though he’s seen the hounds of hell?
MISS ABIGAIL’S ROOM, by Catherine Cavendish, is a novella that takes place in the year of 1896. I simply loved the historical references and snapshots into life during this time period. While most definitely a work of horror–psychological and supernatural–this is also a great example of historical fiction.
Cavendish takes the time to showcase the intricate details that really make you feel as though you were witnessing something from the late 1800’s. The hierarchy of servants in a household, for example, was just as important to them as social status was to the upper class. Everyone had a place in the household, and those that they had to answer to.
Our main character is a lower-level parlor maid, named Becky. She would have the “messier” jobs that the head-parlor maid felt beneath her own standing, In the prolonged absence of the Master and Mistress’ daughter, Miss Abigail, this included the cleaning of the daughter’s room–which held a very strange element that bothered her the most.
“. . . It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded, as the way it kept coming back . . . “
Each day, no matter how thoroughly she cleansed it away previously, a pool of blood was found in the room, seemingly seeping up from the floorboards beneath.
A most interesting take on this phenomena, Cavendish showcases her characters as being unconcerned with this most sinister and troubling of occurrences. The only comments made are merely instructions to have it thoroughly cleaned up each day, as though it were any other commonplace mess.
This novella was very character-driven. Even when the enigmatic Miss Abigail returns home, it is the personalities even more so than the troubling occurrences, that propel this book forward.
This author is incredible at setting and maintaining a captivating atmosphere. From the very first sentence, you can “feel” the tension and pervading malevolence that initiates there. After this, the oppressiveness, confusion, and sense of wrongness increases exponentially as the story moves on. Each scene and incident pave the way for the next. Simply put, this is one of those books that once begun, you want to stay in until the final page.
Overall, another brilliant novella by Catherine Cavendish. In terms of storyline, characterization, and unrelenting atmosphere, everything flowed very well. My only initial question was in the case of a couple of characters, whose purpose I was uncertain of. However, by the ending, I had worked out all prior confusion, and came to the realization that each piece to this particular puzzle fit into place perfectly.