I’m not sure what to make of The Servants, in the end. It sounds like it’s going to be creepy, but isn’t really. It feels like Tom’s Midnight Garden, except that it’s a bit more mature in some ways, and then again in other ways it isn’t. It doesn’t quite seem to all fit together right, producing a story that doesn’t seem to know what it is — one minute it’s deeply real, a boy’s experience of his mother’s sickness and his parents’ divorce. The next, it’s into the Midnight Garden type of fantasy, and in the end comes off as feeling too easy, almost wish fulfilment. I wasn’t sure who the book was really aimed at, either.
It’s not a long or difficult read, but I found it rather puzzling because the elements didn’t come together. I don’t really recommend it, partly because I’m not sure who I’d recommend it to. There’s some great atmospheric bits and description and glimpses into the head of a boy dealing with a stepfather and a mother’s critical illness… and yet.