By: Kate Cann
Publication Date: February 2010
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 3, 2009
“Lock your door, dear. Always lock your door at night,” is a warning given by a kindly housekeeper, Mrs. Driver, to the new girl, Rayne, working at Morton’s Keep, a large country estate. The property is said to be haunted and with all the strange sounds, Rayne suspects that the rumors may be true.
Possessed opens in a hot, stuffy, crowded flat in East London. Sixteen-year-old Rayne shares a bed with her younger brother, feels her mother doesn’t understand her, and has a domineering boyfriend. Simply put, Rayne feels like she is suffocating. In an effort to escape, the young woman takes a job far out in the country, working at an historic mansion, serving tea and scones to tourists.
After her first night at Morton’s Keep, where all sorts of strange noises disturb her sleep, it isn’t long before Rayne starts to suspect there is more to the estate than grand gardens and portraits of long dead Lords and Ladies. It doesn’t help that Mrs. Driver, her employer and household caretaker, seems jumpy. But Rayne is so desperate to escape the heat and turmoil of her London home that she decides to stay at the creepy mansion.
Rayne eventually settles into her job and new home. She convinces herself that the noises and strange sightings are simply a result of her vivid imagination. A new group of friends, including a new boyfriend, help keep Rayne’s mind away from the violent past of the mansion and the ghosts that may/may not be wandering around. But things are not as they seem and soon Rayne is embroiled in a mystery that threatens to take her down along with the ghosts, ghouls and artifacts at Morton’s Keep.
Possessed drew me into its grip from the first chapter. Author Kate Cann took the time to build a main character who is believable and sympathetic. It wasn’t hard to root for Rayne and hope that she dumped her possessive boyfriend, discover the truth behind the ghoulish stories at Morton’s Keep, and find happiness. The descriptive passages of the mansion and grounds were so effective that I could smell the musty carpet and hear the wooden floorboards creak as Rayne explored its contents.
Readers will be kept guessing as to what is truly happening at Morton’s Keep throughout most of the book. Are there really ghosts haunting its halls, or perhaps it is all caused by a devil-worshipping fire group, or maybe it’s just the wind?
First published in England, Possessed does use a fair amount of English slang (“little sod,” “she was knackered,” etc.) but it shouldn’t be difficult for teen readers to figure out the meanings of the various terms given their context. There are also a few mentions of premarital sex (Rayne’s first boyfriend pressuring her, the new boyfriend not pressuring her) but these instances are brief and Rayne is determined to not give in to the pressure.
Quill says: A creepy mansion, a strong female lead, and lots of twists and false turns make Possessed a winner.