Title: The Distant Hours
Author: Kate Morton
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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.
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.