I was disappointed in this book by Ms Lawrence, especially as I quite enjoyed her book "Shell Game"
. The heroine of this story, Kit, is brought into submission and absolute obedience through violence and implied sexual abuse. She works alongside an older version of herself, a German girl kidnapped before her, a math prodigy who is now older and doesn't quite hold the interest of the self absorbed Miss Rush, the brain behind these country tours, with this 'machine that plays chess' in the 1800s. Kit spends most of her time hiding inside a box and is conditioned to be frightened of the outdoors. So, the story…. There are many descriptions of Kit being punished or somehow abused which she describes, as 1st person narrator, with nonchalance, some humor provided by the Countess and very little from Eleanor, the niece of the Countess (added later - with whom they were invited to stay a while)
There is no romance in the story, but just the sadness of kidnapping, forced labor and abuse of children and young adults. Tension came from guessing just how mad Rush (the mastermind kidnapper) will be when she finds out about the latest breaking of the rules. The ending plays out like a Chris Hansen special on catching sexual predators but the "perp" had actually already committed murder so we were kept in suspense for no apparent reason, perpetuating the "what is real and what is an illusion" tagline.