Clare B. Dunkle

The House of Dead Maids

By Clare B. Dunkle. New York: Henry Holt, 2010.
Edited by Reka Simonsen.
A chilling prelude to Emily Brontë's classic novel, Wuthering Heights.

The House of Dead Maids book cover

To view the book trailer, click here.

A black dress next to my black dress. Gray hands reaching for mine.

The old looking glass in the beaded frame returned only a suggestion of features. I longed to see my new clothes, and as I stepped into the passage, I was just turning over in my mind where I might have seen a better mirror. When first I caught sight of the small figure in black, I thought it was my reflection.

She stood very still in the dusky passage where the light was poorest. Like me, she wore the black dress that proclaimed her a maid of the house, but whereas mine was new, hers was spoiled by mildew and smears of clay. Thin hair, dripping with muddy water, fell to her shoulders in limp, stringy ropes. This was my companion of the night before—and she was dead.

The child who will become Heathcliff is already a savage little creature when Tabby Aykroyd arrives at Seldom House to be his nursemaid. But the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse. The ghost of the last maid will not leave Tabby in peace, yet this spirit is only one of many.

As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces that surround the house, she tries to befriend her uncouth young charge, but her kindness cannot alter his fate. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff has already doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.

Illustration from The House of Dead Maids
To view the illustrations by Patrick Arrasmith which will begin each chapter of the book, click here.

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"A little gem of a book"

"Pagan magic, Heathcliff's back story and a lot of scary dead maids: Dunkle's knack for the creepy sets spines tingling ... For readers familiar with Brontë's novel, the final connection is a masterstroke; even those who don't get it will find this a keeper."

"This is literature."
—Bryce Milligan, San Antonio Express-News

"An engrossing thriller and worthy companion to its classic literary inspiration."
The Horn Book (Starred review)

"Absolute creepiness"
Bookends, a Booklist blog

"DEAD MAIDS is dark and beautiful, literary and lovely ... Worthy of sitting on a shelf next to Wuthering Heights."
—Melissa Marr, author of Wicked Lovely


Book excerpt may or may not appear on printed book jackets. Excerpt copyright 2010 by Clare B. Dunkle. Illustration copyright 2009 by Patrick Arrasmith. Jacket art, text, and illustrations courtesy of Henry Holt & Co. Jacket design by April Ward.

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