Mark is an unhappy 11-year old who has just moved from London to Brighton with his sick mother and hated stepfather. Missing his father and sad over the destruction of their family, he gets to know the old lady who lives in the basement apartment of the house. She shows Mark the servant’s quarters that remain under the house where the servants are seemingly going about their usual duties as if it’s still the early 1900’s. At first this order is reassuring to Mark with all the chaos of his real world above, but he comes to see that things are going wrong below stairs as well.
This book was easy to read and follow, and I loved the way Michael Marshall Smith captured Mark’s rage. I was able to sympathize with his character while still understanding that the situation was not quite the way it seemed. As the book progressed I became aware that Mark’s interactions with the old woman and servant’s quarters helped him to grow from a young child with selfish needs to one who could step outside of his comfort zone and understand that people and events from the past are always part of the present. The Servants is both a coming of age novel and a ghost story all wrapped together. I am not a science fiction reader, generally speaking, but this was more about believable interactions and characters and was a truly enjoyable experience.