Buy Used
FREE Delivery on orders over £10.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by the book house
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: This item will be picked, packed and shipped by Amazon and is eligible for free delivery within the UK
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Servants Hardcover – 1 Apr 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
£2.99 £0.01
Audio Cassette
"Please retry"

Man Booker International Prize 2017
A Horse Walks Into a Bar has won the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Learn more
click to open popover

Special offers and product promotions

What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (1 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007261934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007261932
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.3 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,030,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Product description

Amazon Review

Talk about a protean career! The writer Michael Marshall, one might think, already has more than enough strings to his bow: As Michael Marshall Smith, he created some of the most inventive and quirky of cutting-edge science fiction novels; dropping the ‘Smith’ (as Michael Marshall), his bestselling crime fiction is among the most technically adroit and pulse-racing in the field. But here he is with yet another hat on – and as M M Smith, he proves to be just as accomplished a writer for younger readers. The Servants is an absolute spellbinder: a wonderfully engaging yarn that will rivet the attention of both younger readers and those adults lucky enough to pick it up.

11-year-old Mark is well aware – even at this tender age – of the fragility and insecurity of life. After his move from the bustle of London to the more bracing seaside air of Brighton in the winter, he finds he is not enjoying himself. His mother’s illness is distressing, and, worse, he cannot stand his new stepfather. The house he lives in is a strange place, with, what’s more, a strange elderly woman in the basement. The sands of reality are about to shift for the vulnerable Mark, and he may have to rely for help on some people who may not even be real.

Smith’s mastery of the fantasy genre is, thankfully, a skill he has not allowed to wither on the vine, and this is intelligent, allusive writing; both disturbing and evocative. Let’s hope MM/Michael/Marshall/Smith finds time to revisit the genre in between his flesh-creeping adult thrillers. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘Superb, offbeat contemporary fantasy … Smith 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’ Publishers Weekly, starred review

See all Product description

Related media

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If I had to describe The Servants in under ten words, I would say: "Coraline, but better, and I loved Coraline."

Michael Marshall Smith is known for his gritty science fiction and horror novels and short stories. I'm a fan and have read quite a few of his novels, such as Spares (plagiarized into the crappy film The Island) and Only Forward, and his collection of short stories, What You Make It, is one of my favourites. So I was interested to see how he would approach young adult fiction, and of course, he does it deftly and with finesse.

Mark is a young boy of 11 who has just moved to Brighton from London with his mother, who is sick with a mysterious illness, and his new stepfather, David. Mark resents his stepfather for moving him away from bustling London to the ramshackle, old house painted Brunswick Cream. An old woman lives in the basement flat, and she has a key to a door that he unlocks, where the servants are.

I would really like to get the opinion of a young adult who has read this and see what they think. There's a few layers of symbolism that is both blatantly obvious and yet subtle. Smith investigates the themes of family ties and family responsibility. The writing is deft and sparse, and the characterization is excellent for being such a short book. Michael Marshall Smith has turned out to be a talented young adult writer as well.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is a clever, subtle, beautiful little book, somewhat reminiscent of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME, in that it's voiced by an engaging young protagonist and hides a dark, surreal and rather disturbing secret world inside what seems to be, very recognizably, our own. I won't spoil the surprise (which creeps up on you throughout the story) but must say I found it both haunting and touching, and it also made me laugh out loud from time to time. I recommend it for readers of any age. It's also a very beautifully packaged book, with head and tail bands, a ribbon and a classy cover, so it makes a lovely gift - and it's short, too, and SUCH an easy read.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book while I was reading the reviews in the Fortean Times - a great place to sniff out new fiction!

This book is about a young boy called Mark. He's eleven years old and is desperately trying to come to terms with the fact his mother has now married another man, David, who Mark resents. He feels that David is an intruder in their lives who is trying to come between him and his sick mother. They are living in Brighton, a long way from the London that Mark sees as his real home, and his real father. Mark discovers an old woman lives in the basement flat under their house (the old servant's quarters) and she has an interesting and spooky secret she wants to share with him that will open Mark's eyes and change the way he thinks forever.

I really liked this book. It is insightfully told from Mark's eleven year old point of view: how he feels about being taken away from his old life and thrust reluctantly into a new one and how he interprets everything his stepfather does as a plan to annoy him and come between him and his mother.

This is a traditional kind of ghost story but is also touching and very well written, keeping you interested right to the end.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Growing up in cosmopolitan London, eleven-year-old Mark would never have thought to find himself living in Brighton with his remote step-father David, and his rather delicate and solitary mother. A diffident boy, Mark has been lonely most of his life, his only real comfort his skate board, a recent present from his father, which he plays with along the long stretches of the asphalt promenade by the beach. Mark is taken back to discover that the cheerful summer chaos of the board walk has been replaced a few cold looking mothers, so he spends most of his afternoons virtually friendless with no one to talk to about his dreams and his disappointments. Even as he watches the other boys joke and toss each other around, Mark skates in silence, going home to the three story house on Brunswick Square that belongs to David but which does not feel anything like home.

From the outset it's pretty obvious there's something terribly wrong with his mother who seems content to sit at home all day staring silently out at of the living room window at the vast Brighton seascape. Within weeks of David coming into their lives, Mark's mother had started to get ill. David casually informed Gerald from the start that his mother needs rest and quiet, and that for the time being she can't even consider stepping outside the front door to go for a walk or have dinner in one of the many restaurants that pepper the promenade. Left to his own devices, David is forced to explore his surroundings, similarly repelled by David's heavy-handed attitude towards him while also concerned about his mother's failing health. Then a fall through his bedroom window jumpstarts a series of events that force him to question what is real and what is not.
Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
'The Servants' is around 230 pages long, but such is the modern preoccupation with length (oo-er missus!) that it's classed as a 'short' novel or novella, rather than simply the `novel' it undoubtedly is.

MM Smith has previously written novel length science fiction under his full name Michael Marshall Smith, and conspiracy thrillers under the shortened name Michael Marshall. Last year's excellent 'The Intruders' - containing supernatural elements - was also published under the latter moniker.

Now there's another variation on his name - MM Smith - which he's used for this modern-day ghost story. Michael himself has commented that this latest book is more akin to his excellent far-ranging short fiction than his longer stuff - hence the new name.

Enough of my preamble - is this book any good? Well, yes. It's beautifully told in clear, simple prose and it won't take the reader long to finish it.

Mark is an 11-year-old boy who's moved down to Brighton from London with his mother and new stepfather. Naturally he hates his step-dad, because like most boys of that age he clings to an idealised view of his birth father, that no other man could compete with.

Once in Brighton, Mark leads a loner's existence, practicing his rudimentary skateboarding skills, until he meets the old lady who resides in the basement of the big property he lives in. She shows her rooms to him, reveals what lies behind an old locked door, and explains that the whole basement forms the old servants' quarters. Immediately Mark's curiosity is piqued. At this stage his mother's health is also deteriorating alarmingly...
Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Look for similar items by category