My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days
Pages - 296
Publisher - Indie
Source - Review copy
Blurb from Goodreads
Skills required: Discretion, and the willingness to go the extra mile.
It seems like the perfect job. Great wages, accommodation provided, and all located within the walls of Highwood Hall, a stunning stately home owned by the Howard family. Not many little girls dream of becoming a maid, but this is an opportunity for me to get back on my feet. And for me to revisit my past...
But I soon realise I've made a mistake. The strict housekeeper, Mrs Huxley, watches my every move, emerging from the shadows when least expected. Lord Howard's son, Alex, takes an interest in me, and as a former addict, I find myself drawn to him because I know he's bad for me.
There's a general atmosphere of unease at Highwood Hall, from the narrow tunnels laced throughout the sprawling house, to the abandoned north wing, rumoured to be haunted. It's easy to imagine the secrets hidden within these walls, like the secrets I hold close.
On my first day, I receive a mysterious package. I open up the pretty gift box to find a miniature doll version of me trapped inside a dollhouse. In this scene I'm dead, lying in a pool of red paint at the bottom of the perfectly recreated staircase. Someone sent this threatening diorama to me, but who even knows I work at the hall? And what do they want?
I know only one truth: my perfect job is turning into my perfect nightmare.
This is my second read by this author, they couldn't be more different although both have creepy eerie vibes! Applying for the housemaid position in a rich affluent area the housemaid NEEDS this job. Getting over her own troubles, addictions she encounters the terrifying Mrs Huxley for her interview. If she scores the job she gets live in, good wages and who wouldn't want to work in Highwood Hall in Yorkshire. Mrs Huxley has worked there for a billion years, she is strict, cold and runs a tight ship, she will be the least of the new housemaids worries!
A dream job or so she thought but the housemaid has her own reasons for wanting to work there and not long after she receives a package that is clearly a threat but by who, why - noone knows her. As she learns the job more and more unsettling things happen and the reader sees what it is like to be "The Housemaid". She is nameless - it highlights just how bad (at times) the help are treated, confidants one moment, used/abused/unseen at others so I think this works well to show that and how something as small as using someone's name can be so big. We walk through the story with her in first person mode, from first day nerves to getting to know the family members, the other hired help. Forming relationships, learning the routines and then it starts getting weird/creepy.
Denzil has a great way of taking a normal situation, job, environment and bringing in the creep/eek. We all have secrets, some more than others, some worse than others and each character has something, a quirk, a secret, a need. I love when a book draws you in, dislikable characters, ones you root for and a story a bit like an onion, peeling "layers" before giving up its secrets. As I said this is my second by this author, it won't be my last, 4/5 for me this time.