‘The Distant Hours’ by Kate Morton

'The Distant Hours' by Kate Morton

'The Distant Hours' by Kate MortonI have previously read two of Kate Morton’s novels – ‘The Forgotten Garden’ and then ‘The House at Riverton’. Both were thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly chilling reads. However, this novel ‘The Distant Hours’ is most definitely the new Morton reigning champion of chilling.

This story begins innocently enough, with the delivery of a letter that had been misplaced for fifty years. Apparently the route mailman drank too many rum toddies one cold day in December and ended up stashing his mail bag into the attic rather than completing his delivery duties. Fast forward fifty year, and eventually the letter resurfaces, gets delivered and thus the tale begins.

‘For it is said, you know, that a letter will always seek a reader; that sooner or later, like it or not, words have a way of finding the light, of making their secrets known.’

Kate (a very casual address yes, but after I read more than one book by an author I do in fact begin to call the authors by their first names), in her intelligent and imaginative way, carries the reader through the tale – seamlessly jumping from past to present and back again – mostly through the voice of Edith, our resident heroine.

Edith is a young woman who has always had a tumultuous relationship with her parents, has just been unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend of 7 years, and is sleeping on her bosses couch with his flatulent dog. Edith’s mother – Meredith – is actually the recipient of the long-lost and now-found note. And although Meredith attempts to keep the content and importance of the note a secret, Edith overrules her mother and unravels the secrets of Milderhurst Castle – and the three sisters who live there.

That’s right, I said Milderhurst Castle. Most of this book takes place in a real, stone-walled castle – complete with a moat and a tower. And all the secrets held within the walls (and moats) of this castle are revealed to the reader before the last page – and the ending is anything but obvious. But if castles and moats are not enough to catch your interest, well then maybe the ‘mud man’ monster will.

In the end you learn not only the truth about the three sisters of Milderhurst Castle (which I will not be spoiling for you … aka read the book), but also the truth Meredith has been trying hard to hide from her daughter Edith. I will tell you the ending is mostly happy, and ultimately instills in the reader a deep ideal:

‘Happiness in life is not a given, it must be seized.’

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 4 {out of 5} stars  |  ★★★★☆
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 2 {out of 5} stars  |  ★★☆☆☆
RATING: 4 {out of 5} stars  |  ★★★★☆