The Turn of Midnight…
About the Book:
As the year 1349 approaches, the Black Death continues its devastating course across England. In Dorseteshire, the quarantined people of Develish question whether they are the only survivors.
Guided by their beloved young mistress, Lady Anne, they wait, knowing that when their dwindling stores are finally gone they will have no choice but to leave. But where will they find safety in the desolate wasteland outside?
One man has the courage to find out.
Thaddeus Thurkell, a free-thinking, educated serf, strikes out in search of supplies and news. A compelling leader, he and his companions quickly throw off the shackles of serfdom and set their minds to ensuring Develish’s future – and freedom for its people.
But what use is freedom that cannot be gained lawfully? When Lady Anne and Thaddeus conceive an audacious plan to secure her people’s independence, neither foresees the life-threatening struggle over power, money and religion that follows …
The Turn of Midnight has been a long awaited release for me. I loved The Last Hours and was ready for this sequel about five minutes after finishing its predecessor. The story picks up exactly where The Last Hours left off, and since it’s been a year between books, Minette kindly provides a concise summary of the story so far in the beginning pages of the book, allowing for the story to continue without any tiresome recaps being threaded through the narrative. In saying this, The Turn of Midnight is not ideal as a standalone read, even with the summary at the start, you really do need to read The Last Hours for complete appreciation of the whole story.
With the threat of the Black Death receding, Thaddeus and his band of boys traverse the countryside gathering intel, accumulating stock and food stores, and looting abandoned wealth. Along the way, an unlikely alliance is formed and an enemy underestimated. The boys have matured greatly since Thaddeus first took them from Develish and their loyalty to each other, as well as to Thaddeus, has strengthened into an unbreakable bond. Develish appears to be the only demense to have remained untouched by the pestilence and Thaddeus sees an opportunity for advancement that has Lady Anne risking all for the independence of her people.
‘She goes against God’s natural order by what she does. All should know their place.’
Lady Anne shines ever more brightly in The Turn of Midnight, with her goodness, her intelligence, and her pure belief in equality setting her apart as a true leader, despite her status as a chattel widow. She offers sensibility in confusing times and forgiveness to all, even to the ones who have betrayed her and accused her the most. She’s such a terrific character, a woman ahead of her times yet still so present within them.
‘To be loved and honoured for who we are, and not what our status represents, is surely the lesson He wanted us to learn when he sent His son to live as a carpenter and not as a king.’
For the survivors of the Black Death, making sense of what has befallen them is proving complicated. Priests and lords lay the blame on the serfs and peasants, citing their sin as the cause, yet questions are raised over why one person and not another has perished. Why an innocent child and not a lecherous man? Why a good priest and not a thieving steward? This questioning of reason is linked intimately to the questioning of religion. The distinction between following the teachings of Christ and believing in God’s word, as opposed to following the interpretation offered through organised religion, remain key themes in this enduring story. It’s this thought provoking content that elevates these two novels well above others within the genre.
‘A deceiver remains a deceiver; a generous heart remains generous. Even had Aristide wanted to preach God’s love, he couldn’t have done it, because instilling fear was the only way he knew to maintain his authority. Wrath and hellfire would always slip more easily off his tongue than forgiveness and redemption.’
‘Oft-repeated doctrines burrowed all too easily into minds when other ideas were suppressed.’
The story clips along at a sharp pace, barely allowing you an opportunity to put it down. The suspense is rife, the clever layers of storytelling second to none. The Turn of Midnight is historical fiction at its finest, a fitting follow up to The Last Hours that had me holding my breath in anticipation on more than one occasion.
Thanks is extended to Allen and Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Turn of Midnight for review.
About the Author:
Minette Walters was one of the most successful crime fiction writers in the world. Published to critical acclaim in over 34 countries, each new novel reached the top of the Australian bestseller lists. Her last crime novel was The Chameleon’s Shadow in 2007. The Last Hours saw Minette moving in an exciting direction. She has written an extraordinary historical novel set in 1348, the year the Black Death came to England. The story is brought to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion in The Turn of Midnight. Minette lives in Dorset with her husband.
The Turn of Midnight
Published by Allen and Unwin
Released on 24th October 2018