SECOND OPINION: The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters

Review published on November 8, 2018.

This book carries on the story begun in The Last Hours, which was set in Dorset in 1348 at the time of the Plague. We know that Lady Anne has saved her demesne of Develish from the pestilence by quarantining all who work on the estate and not allowing anyone to enter. A lot of the first book was about Thaddeus, a serf, who takes five boys to search for food when supplies in Develish are running low. I found this part rather overlong and not particularly interesting so was pleased to find we pick up the story with Thaddeus returning with the boys who have matured quickly during their time with him.

I preferred this story to the first one. Not only is it better paced but the characters are more developed and interesting. It is still a bit overlong, especially the part about convincing people of a different story about Thaddeus’s birth, but it captures the atmosphere of fear and distrust in most places contrasted with the loyalty and devotion to Lady Anne. I especially like how that period’s attitudes to religion and serfdom are entwined into the narrative.

It is an interesting and compelling piece of atmospheric historical fiction about a horrific period and reading groups would find plenty to discuss. It would probably be best to read The Last Hours first, although there is an introduction which gives details of the people, places and events in that book.

Berwyn Peet 4/4

The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters
Allen & Unwin 9781760632168 hbk Oct 2018


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