The Voice Upstairs

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The Voice Upstairs
Age Range
12+
Release Date
October 03, 2023
ISBN
978-1665926836
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Wilhelmina Price has a dubious reputation in the village of Thrush’s Green. Ever since her mother’s untimely death, she has been able to see a person’s spirit leaving their body days or hours before they die. Wil has never been able to prevent these deaths, so her unusual skill has made her an outsider to most except her lifelong friend, Edison, the youngest son of Lord Summerfield. But when a maid at the Summerfield’s estate dies in the same mysterious way as Wil’s own mother, Wil takes on a housemaid’s position to investigate whether these women might, in fact, have been murdered.

There is nothing Ed Summerfield values more than his friendship with Wil, which is why he’s desperate to disguise how hopelessly in love with her he’s become—and his belief that he may be haunted by the ghost of his older brother, Peter. Because if Wil, with her supernatural powers, can’t see the same evidence of hauntings that Ed does, he worries he may actually be losing his mind.

Together, Wil and Ed must dig deeper into the Summerfields’ hoard of secrets, though the truth won’t give itself up without a fight that could prove deadly to the both of them, as they face cunning adversaries among the living and the dead.

Editor review

1 review
Ghosts upstairs AND downstairs
Overall rating
 
3.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Wilhelmina Price's life revolves around the Summerfield family in Thrush's Green, England not long after World War I. Her grandfather, who is the butler there, is raising her after the deaths of both of her parents. Her mother passed away under horrible circumstances (she drowned), and ever since Wil has been able to see the souls of people who are soon to die leaving their bodies. She's tried to intervene, but it rarely ends well, and when she sees the sould of a housemaid at the Summerfield's house, she doesn't say anything. Wil is also great friends with Edison Summerfield, whose older brother Peter died in the Great War, and whose spirit is haunting the house, destroying the nursery whenever Edison is home from school and forced to live in that wing. Since his sister Kitty is throwing a house party for her birthday, he is once again battling this ghost, and Wil has been unable to contact Peter and convince him to stop. Wil and Ed have always been friends, and know that their relationship would be tricky, Since things are changing for women, Wil has studied all of Ed's school texts, and has even earned money writing papers by mail for his classmates. She hopes to go to college herself, but after the latest death takes a job as a housemaid in order to earn some money and also get a better idea of what is going on. Her grandfather does not approve, but he doesn't approve of housemaids in general. Wil does a good job, and Abigail, who is now the head maid, is glad to have her help. Kitty's party is busy, but Kitty seems to be struggling with something big enough that she even talks to Wil about some things. When Wil sees Edison's spirit leaving his body, she panics, and tells Kitty. Kitty makes a cryptic comment that she will make sure her brother is okay... and then is found thrown from her horse. Clearly, something malevolent is leading to the deaths of all of these women, and Wil and Ed are even more motivated to find out after Kitty's demise. While Wil consults ghosts of the past, some ghosts that are more real surface and lead her to believe that both dark spiritual forces, as well as even darker human forces, are at work. Will she be able to combat them before even more deaths occur?

Good Points
There's something comforting about an English country house, even if it IS inhabited by murderous ghosts! The cozy nooks, the servants' quarters downstairs, the hidden rooms, and palatial common spaces are something that most readers will never get to experience, so the next best thing is to be able to join Edison in his reading room!

This had a fair amount of twists and turns, some of which were great surprises, and others which had been strongly suggested all along. We are never quite told why Wil has the ability to see ghosts, but the post WWI setting of this gives plenty of room for the belief in ghosts, as well as for a seance. The reasons for the ghosts are a bit dark, and while there is nothing graphic on the page, and the language is circumspect, the hinted history of sexual abuse and domestic violence might make this more suitable for upper middle grade or young adult readers.

Readers who like historical novels filled with romance and mystery, like this author's A Treason of Thorns, Harvey's A Breath of Frost, Wallach's Hatchet Girls, or Johnson The Name of the Star series will enjoy the friends-to-lovers romance between Wil and Ed, the murderous ghosts, and the drama of the Upstairs, Downstairs social dynamics of early 1900s.
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