In 17th-century England, a girl faces civil unrest, conflicting Christianities, and a family inheritance more horrific than she could have dreamed.
Makepeace has nightmares, so Mother banishes her to an abandoned chapel to practice fighting off the dead people who are trying to enter her mind. Upon Mother’s death, Makepeace is sent to the Fellmottes, family of the father she never knew. Grizehayes is a “graceless and vast” house, the wealthy family’s “arrogance made stone.…proof of their centuries.” The Fellmottes treat her as a servant and prevent her escape: they need her as a spare receptacle for generations of family ghosts. But if Makepeace’s body inherits the ghosts, her own consciousness may not survive. Doggedly ingenious and stolid, Makepeace grabs every scrap of agency she can find—even when ghosts do share her mind, invited or not, human or beast. She escapes Grizehayes, but the Fellmottes hunt her through city and countryside, through both sides of the unfolding English civil war, through the disguises she keeps changing. Powerlessness, poverty, and integrity are major themes, built on a subtle yet stubborn underlying warmth. Hardinge’s plot is both unpredictable and rock-solid, her settings full of smells, her imagery vivid: “A shocked silence pooled like blood.” All characters are white and English.
Deliberate, impeccable, and extraordinary. (Historical fantasy. 12-15)