Bessy is the only housemaid inside the isolated country house - it's hardly a castle - and the Lady of the house, Arabella, soon begins to make some odd requests of her. Bessy is narrating the story and her dialect - attributable to her upbringing, location and it being 1863 of course - makes her instantly endearing to the reader.
By her own admission Bessy is wicked, however she's always trying to improve and she'll do anything for Missus; until she finds out her secret that is. Then everything begins to fall apart and Bessy will do anything to take it all back and tries to apologise to master James.
The Observations is a unique mystery, complete with a creaking attic, a locked drawer, hidden journals and family secrets. I always enjoy these elements in a novel, but in this case, the plot seemed unique and took a different direction than I had been expecting, which was quite refreshing. Bessy also adds a touch of humour to every page and I thoroughly enjoyed her clever but somewhat naive charm.
I was pleased to discover The Observations contains enough gothic elements to qualify as a gothic novel (according to gothicreadingchallenge.blogspot.com) which means this qualifies as one of the books for the Gothic Reading Challenge - I signed up to read 5 by the end of 2011, and this makes #2.
I also have to comment on the cover art, I absolutely adore the cover of this book, it's evocative and powerful and relevant to the story. Visually stunning, I love it!
My rating = ***