Kate Morton is a renowned local author who has made quite a name for herself with her beautifully written novels set in by-gone eras that evoke an authentic feeling of a historical period. From war-torn Britain and the search for identity in Victorian times in The Forgotten Garden, to fading aristocratic families in Edwardian England in the 1930s in The Shifting Fog, Morton is adept at drawing the reader into her rich, gothic tales.
Her latest novel, The Distant Hours (hb $40), sticks to similar themes of family secrets and discovery. Edie Burchill receives a long-lost letter from her mother whom she was never close to, detailing her evacuation from the London Blitz in the 1940s to live with the mysterious and eccentric Blythe family at Milderhurst Castle in Kent. Juniper Blythe and her twin sisters live with their father, Raymond, the author of the 1918 children’s classic The True history of the Mud Man.
Starting as an idyllic relocation to the beautiful countryside for Edie’s mother, the enigmatic Blythe family soon show a captivating and disturbing undercurrent. Formerly celebrated, now verging on mad, Raymond roams the vast and chilling castle with its locked doors and hidden passages. Is Raymond being haunted by his own creation, the Mud Man? What event caused Juniper to be damaged for the rest of her life? Why was the moat surrounding the castle filled in?
Jumping back and forth between Edie’s day and the past, the novel grabs your attention with its intrigue and baffling mystique and does not let go till the very end. A truly enthralling and worthwhile read, Kate Morton’s latest offering can sit proudly along side her previous novels in a genre she has perfected.
Out now in a lovely hardback edition, $40.