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Literature / Murkmere

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Murkmere is a gothic fantasy novel by Patricia Elliott. The novel opens on Agnes Cotter, a village girl, arriving at the mysterious Murkmere estate where she is to take on the position of companion to the Master’s ward, Leah. However, Murkmere is viewed with great suspicion by the villagers, and rightly so. Aggie’s time at the estate becomes a nightmare.

Leah very vocally wants nothing to do with her new companion. In addition to her vicious insults and constant disappearances to the mere that could get Aggie fired for letting Leah endanger herself, Leah has fallen into blasphemous for the Divine Beings (the birds on which orthodox religion is built). Agnes tries to leave after a short, miserable stint at the estate, but between Silas’ obstruction and the coming of winter snow, she is trapped.


With no choice but to stay at Murkmere, Aggie is forced deeper into the web of intrigue and ambition that threatens to tear it apart. As Leah’s sixteenth birthday celebration approaches and Aggie becomes more fond of her new friend and begins to question the authority of the Ministration that governs her world, it becomes clear that it may take everything she has to get herself and the people she loves through the coming trials alive.

Murkmere is followed by a companion novel, Ambergate.


This work provides examples of:

  • Ambition Is Evil: A lot of the vad things Silas does are motivated by his desire to become Master of Murkmere.
  • Attempted Rape: Silas accosts Aggie, but Leah steps in.
  • Child Soldiers / Children Forced to Kill: The Militia is in the habit of forcibly enlisting young men and boys.
  • Disney Villain Death: The end of the line for our dear Silas Seed. Oh, how we shall not miss him at all!
  • Fantastic Racism: Most people think very poorly of the avia.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The story of Leah seems to contain traits of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The avia are part human, part bird.
  • Happily Adopted: Agnes is raised by her aunt, with whom she is very close. Leah is the Master's ward, and they are also like blood father and daughter.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Dogget alternately betrays and aids the girls.
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  • Impoverished Patrician: Murkmere is a huge, luxurious estate, but the Master really can't afford to keep it in good repair. Most of the country is in the same shape, too.
  • Just the First Citizen: The title of the ruler is the deceptively service-oriented "Lord Protector". While some of them may actually protect the people, the current one really isn't so good at that.
  • Killed Off for Real: Matt Humble. The Master. Silas Seed.
  • Kudzu Plot: It's theoretically a story complete within itself, but there are a lot of lose ends if you don't continue to Ambergate.
  • Low Fantasy
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Leah is the Master's daughter.
  • Mysterious Parent: Leah's parentage becomes a major issue in the latter half of the book.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Between the hissing of the Ss and the connotation of being "seedy", Silas Seed is not a comforting name.
    • There's also The Master, but he's actually not a bad guy.
  • Parental Abandonment: Leah's a foundling. Agnes is an orphan.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The avia are believed by most to have been punished with their bird-human forms. An alternate interpretation, however, is that they were rewarded.
  • The Theocracy: The Ministration. Which makes it a little awkward that the Master and his successor, Leah, don't actually believe in said religion.
  • You Are Number 6: Scuff and other slave orphans.

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