Sunday 9 June 2019

Book Review: The Memory of Midnight by Pamela Hartshorne (Historical Fiction/Fantasy)

Title: The Memory of Midnight
Author: Pamela Hartshorne
Pan Books

Publication Date: 2013
Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Secondhand Copy from Friend


One hot day in Elizabethan York, young Nell Appleby is trapped in a wooden chest, and a horror of the stifling dark--and of the man who trapped her--dogs her for the rest of her life. Wed to the sadistic Ralph Maskewe, Nell must find joy where she can, until the return of her childhood sweetheart offers a chance of flight to the New World. Will Nell risk all to escape the dark at last?

Four and a half centuries later, Tess and her small son Oscar move to York. Eager to start a new life, away from her overbearing and manipulative husband, Martin, Tess tries to put her marriage behind her. But time in York has a way of shifting strangely, and memories of a past that is not her own begin to surface with disturbing effect. Living two lives, torn between two worlds, Tess must unlock the secrets of the past before she can free herself--and Nell--once and for all.

I have read a number of dual-timeline historical fiction works, but few blur past and present as completely as The Memory of Midnight. This is not a simple matter of Tess investigating the past, or even travelling back in time, rather she experiences Nell's world as if she were regressing to a previous life. At times I felt the parallels between the two women were a tad belaboured. I would also have liked more depth to a few of the characters. However, the mystery/action aspect of the tale worked well and kept me reading. Plus it was a very quick and easy read that I finished within three nights, rather than the four or five I had expected it to take. If you are a fan of dual-narrative historical fiction with a bit of a fantasy twist, you'll probably want to check this one out. 3.5 stars.

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