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A heritage of shadows by Madeleine Brent
Paris, 1891. Hannah McLeod, 18 years old, lives in a shabby room in Montmartre and works as a waitress since she was 17. She can speak English and French fluently, is obviously well educated, but is secretive about her parents and how all this came about, even to us, the readers. Half way through the book this is explained and it turns out to be the main reason behind about everything that happens in the book. Although she doesn't want to return to England, circumstances force her to take a position as French teacher to the children of a wealthy industrial in England. It may be that he has some ulterior motive for hiring her....

Most of the gothic elements are there: first person narrative, likeable sensible but not beautiful heroine in peril and a mystery to be solved. No eerie mansions, however.

I liked the book a lot, but for the last sixth part which seems to be added to make up for some required amount of pages. Here the author uses a contrived coincidence to further the story, one of my pet peeves. If most of the last part were omitted, the ending would have been so much more satisfying.

The storytelling was excellent; I love the sensible tone of the heroine and the beautiful dialogue. No irritating flippant wisecracking as a lot of modern first person books tend to use. Descriptions of the setting and time made everything very real en interesting.

I'd recommend this book and would rate it 8 out of 10 (the 9 would be given if the book had ended without the last 1/6th part).

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