The House of Dead Maids (head-turner of a title, huh?!) is a prequel to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, written by Claire B. Dunkle.
Little Tabby Aykroyd is hired and sent to Seldom House to be the nursemaid of a young boy that is none other than Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. He is a not a delightful, sweet child - he is savage and disturbing. Not only is her charge disheartening, but the house itself is eerie and strange and seems full of secrets.
But it is when a previous maid begins appearing, trying to share Tabby's bed that things become more dangerous. Because this maid is no longer among the living - but instead a dead, wet, sickly creature with empty eyesockets and a feeling of evil around her. And she might not be the only one...
I tried reading Wuthering Heights once and do own a copy. However, despite my love of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre I was unable to finish Wuthering Heights since I found the characters to be so despicable and unlikable that I couldn't fathom why I was supposed to invest time in them. I didn't realize that there is a pagan, ghost-story element to the story - until I read this slim, 143 page prequel by Claire B. Dunkle.
The super-creepy cover and immediately atmospheric, foggy scariness did make me interested. And Tabby is a strong, smart, surprisingly young (only eleven!) main character. Plus, the illustrations that adorn each new chapter add to the honestly frightening nature of the book.
The House of Dead Maids is told in a past-tense voice, giving it an ominous feeling for some reason. At first I didn't think it was as chilling as I'd suspected it would be - but that changed rather quickly once we meet the eyeless dead maid and begin to find out why she's haunting the place. Not to mention Heathcliff's disturbing personality - made especially alarming because of his age.
I was a bit confused at times, and some of the explanations and revelations came across a bit convoluted - but The House of Dead Maids because a bonafide horror novel by the end. Included are lots of, "Ew!" And, "Oh dear..." And, "Ah!" That last one was a small scream, by the way. Lol.
Though not a favorite of mine, and it still leaves me unsure if Emily Bronte is the author for me, The House of Dead Maids is written very well and has an essence of the time period and feel of the classic novel. It does its job of kinda freaking me out, but tends to be more on the disturbing not-so-fun side than I prefer.
But if The House of Dead Maids sounds like the kind of book you like - dare to read it with the lights down low! I'm not sure you'll make it to the horrifying end! ;)