On Hist Fic Saturday
Let's go back to ...medieval England
The year is 1349 and time is running out..
|Black Death #2|
4 October 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
What's it all about...
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...
My thoughts about it...
In 1348/49 the worst pandemic in history continues to make its presence felt. For those who try to survive in the demesnes of Develish in Dorseteshire, life, despite the plague, is, thanks to their gracious benefactor, Lady Anne, safely maintained. When clandestine news arrives from their erstwhile steward, Thaddeus Thurkell, that there are little survivors throughout the area, plans are made to bring in whatever food and livestock is available in order to ensure the survival of Develish. However, danger is never far away, and Thaddeus and his young companions need to keep their wits about them as they venture into dangerous territory.
There is no doubt that the author has created a very believable and almost dystopian medieval world. Fourteenth century Dorset is a place where all hope of charity is abandoned and the old feudal way of life is forever changed. Survivors of the plague look for guidance from their lords and priests but finding nothing worthwhile challenge authority on every level. Lawlessness is one step ahead of terror and Thaddeus and his companions need wit and guile and also a plausible reason for travelling the land, and so, with the collusion of Lady Anne, an audacious plan is set in place which will either see the success of Develish or its demise.
Thanks to the undeniable skill of the author I have been immersed in a dark medieval world, traversing a countryside destroyed by the ravages of a deadly disease which ravaged communities. The old remnants of a feudal system is in disarray and the country is a lawless place were bodies lie unburied and livestock roam untended. However, if people are to survive, plans have to be made, and both serfs and freemen must work together in order to survive, and for some this is the chance of a lifetime to make something of themselves.
The Turn of Midnight brings this dark world to life in glorious detail, concentrating more on what is going on in the wider community than at Develish, the story is no less compelling. The characters we got to know so well in The Last Hours continue to have a starring role in this story but with greater emphasis placed on Thaddeus and his young companions who he has trained into a strong band of followers.
As there is a seamless continuation from the first book to this second story, I feel that readers coming new to The Turn of Midnight will have missed far too much and whilst I'd like to say this story works as a standalone, I don't think it does, as this really is one of those series which you should read in book order.
Alive with menace from the start, The Turn of Midnight is a vivid recreation of medieval life and one of the best historical fiction series I have read in a long time. I do hope that there's going to be at least one more book as the ending in this one certainly lends itself to a continuation...
Minette Walters is one of the world's best-selling crime writers. She is the author of twelve novels, winning the CWA John Creasey Award for The Ice House, the Edgar Allan Poe Award in America for The Sculptress and two CWA Gold Daggers for The Scold's Bridle and Fox Evil. The Last Hours and The Turn of Midnight mark an exciting new direction for Minette. She lives in Dorset with her husband.