Little, Brown Young Readers (2007)
Reviewed by for Reader Views (3/07)
Agnes Cotter, who lives with her Aunt Jennet in the village, takes up a position at Murkmere Hall as companion to the crippled Master's ward Leah, whom he keeps hidden behind the high walls of his estate. Agnes' mother worked as a maid at Murkmere before her death. Agnes wears an amber amulet for protection and sees signs in the appearance of different species of birds. She keeps in touch with her childhood friend, Jethro Sim, who does not want her to work at Murkmere, and has his own secrets.
At first, Miss Leah does not welcome a companion, but over time and with many misunderstandings, she and Aggie develop a degree of friendship. Leah visits the frozen lake at every opportunity to commune with its swans, who allow her close to them. The villain of the piece is the estate's handsome steward Silas Steed, whom the Master foolishly trusts, but who has his own ambitious plans. These come to fruition at Leah's birthday celebration, which is attended by the Lord Protector himself, along with his wise fool Gobchick.
“Murkmere” is an interesting, at times slow moving, tale of a young woman's coming of age, and how she attacks and makes it through many conflicts between loyalty and faith. The story has a surprising ending that leaves you begging for more.
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