Kathleen Grissom had the raw materials for a rich and powerful historical novel. Her writing is good, if a little drawn out at times. She has an interesting angle with the orphaned Irish immigrant girl put to work among the slaves. So why did it fall short? I think Grissom slipped too easily into stereotypes and melodrama and never got out of that rut. When you have too many tragic or shocking things happen to too many characters, it becomes predictable and numbs the reader. I started losing track of what bad things had happened to which characters. I enjoyed the story well enough for what it was, but it didn't feel real to me. I should add that I read Alex Haley's Roots at the age of 17, which set my standards for authenticity in slave novels. No doubt this accounts in part for my lukewarm response to The Kitchen House. If you haven't set the bar quite that high, you may just love it. A lot of people have so far.