By Elizabeth Marie Pope. Found via Oached Pish.
Kate Sutton, lady-in-waiting to Princess Elizabeth, is exiled by the Queen to a castle in Elvenwood. The trouble she stumbles into there is all the more chilling for being so plausible: this book could easily be called historical fiction rather than fantasy.
This book took some time to grow on me. It began slowly, but the characters gradually grew in depth. The enemies (if they can be called that) are portrayed more as foreign, with a different (and fatalistic) outlook on life, than as willingly evil; and they are still human, even so. With their people declining, they have very little hope for the future.
Kate is also likable, although she seems to have few interests of her own other than satisfying her curiosity about the mysteries of the castle. She is not too perfect; in several cases she is saved only by happenstance, perhaps by God. In others, she has to accept and work within the situation where she finds herself.
As I said, this book has grown and is still growing on me. (To be honest, there are a few pages in the middle that I haven't yet brought myself to read.) I recommend it.