Trust Madeleine Brent to have the reader hook at the first line. It has all the elements of a Gothic I love to read (and the kind that is so hard to find nowadays). A young, brave English girl, who seems to be alone in the world and goes to live in a Manor and whose life is constantly in danger, mostly because of a hidden treasure. This summary is completely incomplete, because it is so much more. But these are the elements that always catch my attention first.
I consider an important point that the setting (and the heroine's nationality) to be British. It is just not the same if the Gothic story takes place in America. Besides, half of the book is also in China. Mixing these two cultures makes the book more adventurous, more a suspense.
I liked Lucy very much although sometimes I thought she was a bit meek. But she was brave, saving several lives, as well as her own. The family were she goes to live with are odious, and I pitied her a great deal. She has a couple of embarrassments that were funny (the concubine, the cat) but I could not help feeling sorry for her misfortunes. Fortunately she has allies, and I am grateful to the author that this time, he did not kill one of the beloved characters.
There is always something happening, and the story never gets weak for a moment. Till the last page one thing or another is happening.
Much better than the last book from MB I've read (The Long Masquerade), and almost as good -or equally good- as Tregaron's Daughter.