So, I haven’t written a book review for the longest time, and when I do, I usually end up writing my quick reviews on my Goodreads account.
I was prompted to write a (quick?) review, more of like my personal thoughts, regarding Kate Morton’s third novel, The Distant Hours. I recently got back to getting in touch with the real world by trying to catch up to reading the books I last bought last year from HPB, thanks to my sudden addiction to that one MMORPG that I recently quit, or fading, so to speak. I just finished Brad Meltzer’s The Inner Circle a few weeks ago after starting that book early of last year and that was quite a surprising thrill.1 I attempted to finish The Distant Hours as the second book to finish. I still got two more that I started last year but never finished it: Dan Brown’s latest Robert Langdon Novel Inferno and a classic Margaret Atwood historical fiction,2 Alias Grace. Mentioning the former, Inferno was becoming like how I felt about The Distant Hours, but I’ll touch base with that some other time.
I’ll make the story short. After many attempts of lying down on my bed just to read this book, I just couldn’t stand the fact that I still don’t understand what was really going on. The only thing that I can grasp on regarding what the story is about came from the book’s summary at the book. We have a young woman who discovered some long-lost letter that belonged (?) to her mother that took her to Middlehurst Castle, trying to learn more about her mother’s past. And in residence, we have three sisters: a pair of twins and their younger sister, who, from my understanding, became insane after being jilted by her fiance during their wedding day. Being familiar with Kate Morton’s usual style and taste of writing, this definitely sounded more of a murder mystery, just like the previous two novels. In fact, I already made a guess that the reason why the fiance never showed up at their wedding, not because he decided to abandon her, but because he was killed, somehow, whether by accident or by murder. Of course, that was my theory in the beginning while still struggling through and getting over the overkill of wordiness throughout the first chapters. The book itself is close to 500 pages, and barely halfway to page 200, I simply just gave up with the book.
From the first chapters, it seemed that Morton went a little too overboard with building the setting and mood in a gothic-like feel and not much plot regarding Juniper’s past, and of course, her missing fiance. I just couldn’t see any plot build-up going on and was way more focused towards the sisters’ lives and the main character simply in the stage of getting to know them, the castle, and the town where it’s located. It literally gave me a headache, more of like, the book literally bored me to death. I was waiting for the part where they mention about the missing fiance but I guess I just got impatient.
In the end, I just simply gave up with this book. While I decided to clean up my bookshelf and sell all of my old textbooks, I got so frustrated with this book that I sold it along with those textbooks. Luckily for me, I also got a copy of Morton’s latest novel, The Secret Keeper, which I have read by reader reviews at Goodreads a much better delivery than The Distant Hours. I’ll get on to that book once I finish the other two books I mentioned up above.
The reason why I had to write this here is because this was actually the first time that I had to give up and reject the book from an author that made it into my personal favorite authors’ list. Her first two books, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden really hooked me. The Distant Hours, to my taste, is probably Morton’s weakest work to date. With that being said, I guess the reason why this book made it into New York Times’ Bestseller List simply because readers may have expected to have this novel supersede her previous two novels, and of course, these readers who made the listing possible have become fans like myself.
Fellow Kate Morton readers: I suggest you borrow The Distant Hours from the library if you are curious about this one. Don’t waste your money buying it like I have.3
On the sidenote...
- will write a review on this book too some other time, if I ever feel like it… [↩]
- which is completely different from most of the novels she gained fame for… [↩]
- … and only got about $1 for it when I sold it to my bookstore. [↩]