As the lowest ranking parlor maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleanin...

Review || Miss Abigail's Room by Catherine Cavendish

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 through 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? 

"It wasn't so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded, as the way it kept coming back."

Boy, that doesn't waste any time getting your attention, does it? 

I have visions of poor Becky up there scrubbing that stain, a la Lady Macbeth: "Out, out Damn Spot! Out, I say!"

Set in Victorian England, the story is told from Becky's POV. First, there's the blood stain in Miss Abigail's room that keeps coming back no matter how often she scrubs it. If that's not eerie enough, weird scratching noises are heard inside the room when there's no one inside. Then a wax doll suddenly appears and then unexplainably disappears when Becky tries to prove its existence to others. The servants start acting strangely. Then they start dying. 

In spite of all the strange happenings, Becky has no choice but to continue at Stonefleet Hall. She may be the lowest parlormaid, but it's a better existence than she had living in squalor with her parents and five siblings. At 33, kneeling on the hard floors, scrubbing and polishing, have taken their toll on her.  She can't risk being let go without a reference. She knows that even as hard as she works, being turned out would be worse. So she continues. Day in and day out. When the odd occurrences begin, and no one else pays the slightest mind, Becky fears she is going mad.

When Catherine Cavendish contacted me and asked to send me Miss Abigail's Room, I jumped at the chance. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, especially the Victorian era. Throw in some sinister horror elements and I'm all in. 

Miss Abigail's Room hit all those buttons for me! Atmospheric and properly creepy, the apprehension and perplexity build throughout the story. You can picture yourself right there alongside Becky puzzling out the mystery and putting all the pieces together.  Full of twists and turns, when the ending came, I simply wasn't ready. I had to remind myself that while  this is just a novella, it felt like immersing yourself in a full novel. 

Miss Abigail's Room was an enjoyable gothic horror story. Like a Grimm Fairy Tale, revenge is horrifically reaped upon the villain of the tale, but no one finds their happily ever after. . 

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I received a copy of Miss Abigail's Room from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

4 Paws Up!

About the Author

Hello, my name's Catherine Cavendish and I write horror fiction, frequently reflecting my Gothic influences.

Out now from Kensington-Lyrical, the first in a trilogy - WRATH OF THE ANCIENTS - set in Egypt and Vienna and featuring the sinister Dr. Emeryk Quintillus whose obsession has stayed with him past the grave.

My novels THE DEVIL'S SERENADE and SAVING GRACE DEVINE have been released in new editions by Crossroad Press, as have my novel of the Lancashire Witches - THE PENDLE CURSE - and my novellas, LINDEN MANOR and DARK AVENGING ANGEL. 

I live with a longsuffering husband and a delightful black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. 

Our home is in a rambling building dating back to the mid 18th century, haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.