For young Mark, the world has turned as bleak and gray as the Brighton winter. Separated from his real father and home in London, he's come to live with his mother and her new husband in an old house near the sea. He spends his days alone, trying to master the skateboard, while other boys his age are in school. He hates the unwanted stepfather who barged into Mark's life to rob him of joy. Worst of all, his once-vibrant mother has grown listless and weary, no longer interested in anything beyond her sitting room.
But on a damp and chilly evening, an accident carries Mark into the basement flat of the old woman who lives at the bottom of his stepfather's house. She offers tea, cakes, and sympathy . . . and the key to a secret, bygone world. Mark becomes caught up in the frenetic bustle of the human machinery that once ran a home, and drawn ever deeper into a lost realm of spirits and memory. Here below the suffocating truths, beneath the pain and unhappiness, he finds an escape, and quite possibly a way to change everything.
A richly evocative, poignantly beautiful modern-day ghost story, The Servants marks the triumphant return of Michael Marshall Smith—the first novel in a decade from the multiple award-winning author of Spares.
At the start of Smith's superb, offbeat contemporary fantasy, 11-year-old Mark has moved to Brighton, a decaying English resort town, with his sickly mother and her new husband, David. Mark hates David, hates his parents' divorce and hates Brighton, where he has no friends and little to do. Then the old lady who lives in the tiny apartment beneath David's recently purchased townhouse takes him on a tour of the old servants' quarters. When Mark sneaks into the quarters on his own, he begins to see the long-dead servants at their jobs and realizes that something is seriously wrong. As this secret downstairs world becomes more and more disordered, Mark discovers that its problems are somehow related to his mother's advancing illness. If he can help the servants, he may just be able to save her life. IHG Award winner Smith (Spares) 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.