4.5 stars"I shivered. It was not as I had expected; it seemed too cold and haughty to promise a warm welcome."Amity Lucas is hired as companion to Regina Fairfax, the mistress of Mallory Keep in Yorkshire. Regina bears a horrible scar on her face and never leaves the keep, so Amity is a welcome addition to the household. The master of Mallory Keep is Regina's brother Damien, but he is so emotionally damaged from a love affair gone horribly wrong that all his time is spent in prayer to his lost love or wandering the moors at night, leaving his sister to run the ancient manor. It doesn't take long before things start going bump in the night in a really big way, but I don't want to spoil the ride by spilling all the beans. I'll just quote a bit to whet your appetite:"I had meant to tell him so much more-of the sounds in the east wing, of dead Rachel's shrine, the cry of a dead woman's voice, of the diary in the writing room, and of the fearful cat that lay in wait."Oh, that black cat."There are some whose spirits haunt the world before death, and Damian is one. He is mad, you know, crazed."This book has just about everything you could want in a gothic, and makes Victoria Holt look like a second fiddle. A ghost (or is there a ghost?), smuggling, hidden passages, a hidden tomb (slight spoiler) not fun getting locked in there with those dead people, dotty old Uncle Eustace and his oddly prophetic paintings and my-oh-my that black cat that no one but Amity and Damian could see. "And then I saw it. At the head of the spiral staircase the black cat sat waiting, its eyes glowing malevolently in the darkness."Did I mention the black cat? Ya'll will just have to read it for yourself to see what happens next - 'cause you're never going to guess. The story picks up at the get-go and never lets up; there was never a dull moment. Extra plus - even with the first person narrative, the author does an outstanding job of keeping Amity in the thick of things without the peeping through the keyhole method that's so prevalent these days. Best $.50 purchase I've made at a library sale in a long time. Go and get this now - what are you waiting for?