About the book
Title: The Servant
Author: Maggie Richell-Davies
Genre: Historical Crime Drama
Estimated page count: 337
Formats available: Paperback & eBook. Available on Kindle Unlimited
Young Hannah Hubert may be the granddaughter of a French merchant and the daughter of a Spitalfields silk weaver, but she has come down in the world.
Sent one spring day as maidservant to a disgraced aristocrat, she finds herself in a house full of mysteries – with a locked room and strange auctions being held behind closed doors.
As a servant, she has little power but – unknown to her employers – she can read. And it is only when she uses her education to uncover the secrets of the house, that she realises the peril she is in.
Hannah is unable to turn to the other servant, Peg, who is clearly terrified of their employers and keeps warning her to find alternative work.
But help might come from Thomas, the taciturn farmer delivering milk to the neighbourhood, or from Jack Twyford, a friendly young man apprenticed to his uncle’s bookselling business. Yet Thomas is still grieving for his late wife – and can she trust Jack, since his uncle is one of her master’s associates?
Hannah soon discovers damning evidence she cannot ignore.
She must act alone, but at what price?
Purchase links: Amazon UK ~ Amazon US
This is a real heartbreaking, but thought provoking powerful novel which kept me turning every page.
Hannah is happy with her job but must move on when her mistress moves. She is sent to a different house, one with a disgraced aristocrat, an awful mistress and another servant who doesn’t say much and is clearly terrified of their employers. Hannah realises that something isn’t right, there are locked doors, and mysterious packages that she’s asked to deliver, and she’s received a couple of warnings about moving on, but no-one will tell her why. Eventually, she uncovers the truth – a truth that is horrifying and she realises she has to do something. But she has no-one to turn to; she’s not sure she can trust her friends Jack and Thomas so takes action herself. But will her actions make a difference? Will the terrible acts be stopped? Will she eventually move on in life as she wants? Or will her actions be the end for her?
I’m a few days on from reading this book and it has 100% stayed with me. It really got me thinking how awful it must have been back in the 18th century as a pauper, starving and not knowing when you’d next eat; or working for awful employers where you’d get beaten and starved; or even worse (which will come out in this story).
Although Hannah is a work of fiction, I really connected with her. She’s brave and strong for a 15/16 year old girl, and she has been through, and goes through so much. The things that she experiences are absolutely horrific. I just wanted things to work out for her, and at times wanted her to stop being so stubborn but could absolutely see why she was being that way.
There are some amazing and wonderful characters in this. The only one I will mention is Peg as I don’t want to give anything away. She thoroughly surprised me and I loved all the way through. There are also some absolutely horrendous characters, who I detested, and who made me angry! Knowing that there were people (and still are) like that, made my blood boil!
The storyline was intriguing and gripping. I wanted to find out what was going on in the house, and although I had my suspicions, I hoped it wasn’t true. There are a lot of dark aspects in this book though, although it adds to the murkiness of 18th century London. Saying that, the setting was brilliant and Richell-Davies has done a superb job of bringing it to life. I could literally imagine the fleas biting, the cold, the hunger, the deep darkness…..it will immerse you in a dark and horrible place, while you go through the story with Hannah.
So, if you are looking for a dark, immersive, intriguing crime drama, set in 18th century London with an absolutely brilliant protagonist and supporting cast, and a storyline that will stay with you for days to come, then this is for you. This 100% comes highly recommended by me.
About the Author
Winner of the Historical Writers’ Award 2020 Unpublished Novel Award with The Servant, Maggie was born on the North-East coast of England and has a first-class honours degree from the Open University.
Her page-turning thriller was inspired by a visit to London’s Foundling Hospital Museum – with its heart-breaking stories about the tokens desperate women left there in the hope that they might, one day, be able to reclaim their child – and research into the exploitation of women and girls in 18th century London.
Details of how she came to write Hannah’s story are on her website, below.
Maggie has had short stories published and been shortlisted for Bridport Flash and the Olga Sinclair and Joan Hessayon Awards. She is a member of the Historical Writers’ Association and of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Royal Tunbridge Wells with husband, Mike, but also worked for a number of years in Peru, Africa and the United States.
Follow Maggie online: Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Writing Group
Many thanks to Maggie for gifting me with a copy of this book, and for her patience in waiting for this review. All views are my own.
Till next time lovelies, take care.
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