cover image The Servants

The Servants

Michael Marshall Smith, . . Earthling, $30 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-9795054-0-9

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. (July)