Book Review: The Distant Hours – Kate Morton

Title: The Distant Hours
Author: Kate Morton
ISBN: 9781439152782
Pages: 576
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Publisher: Atria
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

It all starts with a letter gone astray.  One letter, sent in 1941, but that doesn’t arrive until 1992.  When Edie’s mother finally receives the letter, she is overcome with emotion and reveals parts of herself that Edie didn’t know existed.  This takes her to Milderhurst Castle, a crumbling, forbidding old castle, where the three Blythe sisters – Percy, Saffy, and Juniper – live.  Edie realizes she is surrounded by mysteries and resolves to solve them, but the answers she gets are even more puzzling than the questions that prompted them.

Review:

I really enjoyed The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton, so when I learned that Kate Morton has a new book coming out, I immediately put it on my wish list.  Morton has a wonderful ability to write incredibly intricate gothic mysteries, and The Distant Hours was no exception.  From the beginning of the novel, I felt that delicious chill that comes with reading an atmospheric gothic novel.

I did very much enjoy The Distant Hours but there were parts of it that went slowly for me.  Don’t get me wrong, the book is very good, but it wasn’t making that leap from “solidly good” to “great.”  It’s told in two time periods, Edie’s story in 1992, and the tale of each of the Blythe sisters in the long forgotten past.  The present was what really intrigued me – it was where the mystery was; it had that haunting quality that I so love in books like this.  The past was different.  While it was still interesting, it didn’t exactly capture my imagination as much as I’d hoped.  I felt like it could have been shorter and still accomplished the same task.

However, everything changed as the novel built up to its stunning conclusion.  While The Distant Hours can be read slowly and savored, the last 100 pages are ones you’ll race through.  At last, I understood why Morton took all that time and effort meticulously developing each of the sisters.  The reader needs to understand them intimately in order to fully grasp the outcome of the book.  And that outcome is shocking, to say the least.  Morton takes you on twists and turns in the last 100 pages – just when you think you have it figured out, she throws another curveball at you.  I absolutely loved the experience of reading it and the way my jaw dropped as the final conclusion came to light.

Edie was a wonderful main character, and the perfect person to take the reader through this adventure.  She was brave and inquisitive, but was sensitive enough to be able to deal with the Blythe sisters effectively.  I also appreciated how invested she was in literature; it’s always nice when the people we’re reading about love books as much as we do!  The personal story – the fact that Edie’s mother was connected with Milderhurst – also was a nice touch.  It gave Edie the reason she needed to really pursue the story with a vengeance. 

The Distant Hours was a great mystery that was perfectly executed.  Though some of it went slowly for me, it was still a very enjoyable read from beginning to end.  I also trust Kate Morton enough by this point to where, even when I wasn’t completely hooked on the book, I knew she was taking me somewhere important.  I can’t even begin to describe how great the ending is, and I really hope you’ll pick up this book to see for yourself.

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Comments

  1. Looking forward to this one, so I was happy u enjoyed it. I was hoping to read Forgotten Garden first but that must not happen.

  2. Looking forward to this one, so I was happy u enjoyed it. I was hoping to read Forgotten Garden first but that must not happen.

  3. Oh oh oh! I listened to The House at Riverton on audio, and I would also say that it had its slow parts, and was just a couple hundred pages too long. But I still really enjoyed the gothic-ness of it. I am off to the library to see if they have this one on audio. You had me at old letters and castles.

  4. Oh oh oh! I listened to The House at Riverton on audio, and I would also say that it had its slow parts, and was just a couple hundred pages too long. But I still really enjoyed the gothic-ness of it. I am off to the library to see if they have this one on audio. You had me at old letters and castles.

  5. I’ve yet to read anything by Morton but am definitely intrigued! I remember seeing one of your reviews of her other works and thinking it sounded great, and this one does, too. And love that enchanting cover!

  6. I’ve yet to read anything by Morton but am definitely intrigued! I remember seeing one of your reviews of her other works and thinking it sounded great, and this one does, too. And love that enchanting cover!

  7. I’ve got The Forgotten Garden on my shelf but haven’t had time to read it yet! I really must get to it because all of her books have been getting pretty good reviews. I’m glad you liked this one.

  8. I’ve got The Forgotten Garden on my shelf but haven’t had time to read it yet! I really must get to it because all of her books have been getting pretty good reviews. I’m glad you liked this one.

  9. You’ve made me so curious about the ending! I wish I could read this book right now!

  10. You’ve made me so curious about the ending! I wish I could read this book right now!

  11. I also have a copy of this book here, and now you’ve made me want to put everything aside and read it right now! Though it was slow for a bit, it sounds like the ending made up for that, and like Kathy, I am also really curious about that! It sounds like a wonderful read, and now I am really excited about it! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review!

  12. I also have a copy of this book here, and now you’ve made me want to put everything aside and read it right now! Though it was slow for a bit, it sounds like the ending made up for that, and like Kathy, I am also really curious about that! It sounds like a wonderful read, and now I am really excited about it! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review!

  13. Agree, agree, agree! She’s a fantastic writer.

  14. Agree, agree, agree! She’s a fantastic writer.

  15. Fabu review — I’m really looking forward to reading this — probably in the spring. I appreciate the note about the pacing and the warning about the ending — I would hate to give up too soon and miss some jaw-dropping action!

  16. Fabu review — I’m really looking forward to reading this — probably in the spring. I appreciate the note about the pacing and the warning about the ending — I would hate to give up too soon and miss some jaw-dropping action!

  17. I’m really looking forward to this one!

  18. I’m really looking forward to this one!

  19. This is one of those authors I would have never heard of if not for book blogging. I have “The Forgotten Garden” to read … and I suspect I’ll be working my way through all of her books once I start based on what I’ve been reading.

  20. This is one of those authors I would have never heard of if not for book blogging. I have “The Forgotten Garden” to read … and I suspect I’ll be working my way through all of her books once I start based on what I’ve been reading.

  21. I loved The Distant Hours as well. I loved how well the characters were built up and how Morton wove all kinds of sub-mysteries into the main mystery. And I also loved Edie and her bookishness! I’ve not read any of Morton’s other books, but I definitely want to now.

  22. I loved The Distant Hours as well. I loved how well the characters were built up and how Morton wove all kinds of sub-mysteries into the main mystery. And I also loved Edie and her bookishness! I’ve not read any of Morton’s other books, but I definitely want to now.

  23. Thanks for the review. I also found The Forgotten Garden a little slow in parts but all in all it was a satisfying read.

    PB

  24. Thanks for the review. I also found The Forgotten Garden a little slow in parts but all in all it was a satisfying read.

    PB

  25. I still haven’t read her second book and you’re telling me this one is good too? Eeeks!

  26. I still haven’t read her second book and you’re telling me this one is good too? Eeeks!

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