Friday, November 9, 2018

Review: The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters

Released in November 2018 by Allen & Unwin Publishing


This book follows Thaddeus Thurkell and his five companions as they travel around Dorseteshire, spreading the news that the pestilence seems to have passed and also seeking information and wealth for the Demesne of Develish. 

It is hard to give a concise plot summary to a book that is a sequel without spoiling the first book. So I will just say that this book continues to follow Thaddeus and Lady Anne as they strive to keep Develish and its people safe and healthy in the face of the pestilence and with suspicions mounting that Lady Anne and her people are somehow concealing their fortune and ability to survive the pestilence. 

Thaddeus Thurkell: Lady Anne of Develish’s steward and spokesman
Lady Anne of Develish: self appointed “Lord” of the Demesne of Develish after the death of her husband Richard. 
Master De Courtesmain: Richard’s Steward who was essentially usurped by Thaddeus, much to his anger and disgust. De Courtesmain harbours a grudge against Thaddeus as he considers him to be a low born bastard who has no right to act as steward to a lady.  
Thaddeus’ five male companions: These five books accompany Thaddeus as he travels around Dorseteshire following the outbreak of the pestilence.
Lord of Blandeforde: Lord of a neighbouring Demesne.
Steward of Blandeforde: becomes allies with Master De Courtesmaine, causing issues for Thaddeus and his companions. 

This book is similar to The Last Hours in that it is set in Dorseteshire in a variety of locations as Thaddeus journeys to improve the fortunes of Develish. 

Writing and things I would change:
The Turn of Midnight was not quite as charming and intriguing to read as The Last Hours, it is still a beautifully written book with excellent imagery and character building. It is obvious that Minette Walters is a brilliant writer. I just wish it had been a little less melodramatic in some parts, for instance when Thaddeus finds himself in trouble with the Steward of Blandeforde and Lady Anne quite literally rides to his rescue it seems a bit campy and convenient. This portion in particular was over written and what could have been expressed in twenty pages was done in forty pages. 

I found the pacing of this very different from the first book. The Last Hours was fast paced, engaging and I couldn’t put it down. The Turn of Midnight was much slower and I found myself having to force myself to keep reading at times. I read The Last Hours in 2 days but it took me 4 to get through The Turn Of Midnight, with the help of an audiobook as well. This pacing made it hard to connect with the characters again and I found myself not caring quite as much when Thaddeus found himself in peril once again. I found that I didn’t relate to Lady Anne and Eleanor as much as I had in the first book as they both seemed to have changed drastically from the people they were in the first book, Eleanor in particular. Whilst this showed character growth and was necessary for the plot, it felt rushed and forced, which is at odds with the slow pacing of the narrative as a whole. This creates a disconnect between the plot and characters which made it hard to stay engaged with the novel. 

Similar books/authors: Just like the first book in this duology The Last Hours, this reminds me of Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, though perhaps not as masterfully written and as wide in scope as Follett’s historical sagas. The writing is good but it falls short of the first book. 

Overall thoughts/final rating: Owing to the problems with pacing and character development I found myself not as compelled to read this as I was with the first book. I still enjoyed the story as a whole and the ending was a satisfying enough conclusion, however it felt a little too convenient for my tastes. All in all I give The Turn of Midnight 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

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