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The Serpent House

Written by Bea Davenport

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The Serpent House Review

Debuts of the Month Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Historical Fiction Recommended Children's eBooks

June 2014 Debut of the Month   A chilling, time-slip story with a strong sense of the past and full of magic and mystery. Summoned out of her life of poverty after her mother’s death, Annie finds she has the extraordinary ability to slip back into the past whenever she touches one of the images of a serpent which fill the grand house in which she is working. Her mistress orders her to follow the serpents back in time to a leper hospital to steal a cure for all the diseases in the world from a sinister doctor who works there. Annie needs great courage to fulfil the mission and has no assurance that the sinister doctor’s cures will work. ~ Julia Eccleshare


The Serpent House Synopsis

As I got into the Hall grounds, the sick, dizzy feeling came over me again, as if I was
about to fall over. Was that a whispering in my ears? Was someone saying my name?

Twelve-year-old Annie is invited to Hexer Hall to work as a servant for the mysterious Lady Hexer. Carvings of snakes are everywhere and when Annie touches one, she travels back in time to when the Hall was a leper hospital, run by a sinister doctor with a collection of terrifying serpents. Annie never wants to return, but Lady Hexer demands she finds a way to steal the doctor’s book of magical cures. She promises it will rid the world of disease, including tuberculosis, which killed Annie’s mother.

Summoning all her courage, Annie travels back in time again...

Annie, the central character, suffers from alopecia, a condition the author also had.  At primary school Davenport starting to notice her hair falling out, and, by aged 8 she had
significant hair loss and alopecia was diagnosed. Davenport suffered with the condition well in to her 30s, it was only after the birth of her first son that her hair started to return. Davenport wanted to write about a character suffering from alopecia, and when she discovered in her research that hair loss was a symptom of leprosy it all seemed to fall in to place. She explains “A long time ago, writers realised that there was no reason why the hero of a story shouldn’t look or act different to the norm, but I’ve never found another book where the main character has lost her hair.”

The Serpent House Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert review, some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Sathana Selvanathan, Year 4, Baring School - 'I have recommended this book to my friends and rate it 100 out of 100 – the best book ever!' Read full review >
  • Adiella Norridge, age 10 - 'the idea of this book was really interesting and involved lots of elements of things I really love in a novel: an interesting main character, a historical setting, elements of magic and mystery.' Read full review >
  • Holly Carver, age 11 - 'The Serpent House is about a girl called Annie who travels back in time to collect a book of medicine.  The ending has an unexpected twist.' Read full review >
  • Alina Wraith, age 9 - 'I liked The Serpent House. It had the classic story lines of time travelling but it was very original in the sense of place and time. It was a brilliant book.' Read full review >
  • Sam Harper, age 10 - 'A really exciting and different time travel adventure which had me hooked from the first page to the last.  An absolutely fantastic read!' Read full review >
  • Lily Benner, age 9 - 'A book of mystery and excitement. So descriptive that I felt I was there.' Read full review >
  • Tomasz, age 9 - 'What a fantastic story!  I just couldn't put this book down. 280 pages filled of snakes, fire, ghosts, magic and explosions. I really felt like I was in the story as the descriptions were so real.' Read full review >
  • Benjy Randall, age 10 - 'A really exciting book for both boys and girls, full of magic and adventure.' Read full review >
  • Hannah Minton, age 8 - 'I couldn't put this book down.' Read full review >
  • Brodie Greenslade, age 8 - 'The Serpent House is a creepy tale in which a servant girl called Annie must cope with time travel and strange characters as she tries to help save the people of Hexer Hall from a mystery illness.' Read full review >
  • Joseph Kinder, age 10 - 'This is a tense book full of suspense, with a really clever use of time.  I loved it; it was brilliant and I would recommend it to ages ten and upwards.' Read full review >
  • Eloise Mae Clarkson, age 11 - 'I really enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were unique, Annie was kind, brave and strong and I liked her.'  Read full review >

The Serpent House Press Reviews

Both the Victorian present of Annie's diary and the medieval past are strongly evoked.  Amanda Craig

...a brilliant book!   Jackie Kay MBE, poet and novelist

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781782020851
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Curious Fox
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781782020851
Publication date: 5th June 2014
Author: Bea Davenport
Publisher: Curious Fox
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Historical Fiction
Recommendations: Debuts of the Month, eBooks, Reviewed by Children

About Bea Davenport

Bea’s first novel The Serpent House was written during her Creative Writing PhD at Newcastle University. Her tutors were Jackie Kay, the award-winning poet and writer, and Professor Kim Reynolds, an internationally-renowned expert in children’s literature. In its early, unpublished form, The Serpent House was shortlisted for The Times/Chicken House award. The Misper was longlisted in a Mslexia Writing for Children competition and is published by The Conrad Press. Bea has also written two crime novels for adults, In Too Deep and This Little Piggy, and teaches journalism and creative writing. She lives near Berwick-upon-Tweed ...

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