Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long-lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.
Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond, author of the 1918 children’s classic The True History of the Mud Man. In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie’s mother. She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers.
Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother’s riddle, she, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiance in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.
‘The suspense will have you turning the pages long into the night.’ Good Reading, 4 stars
‘An enthralling romantic thriller . . . will stun readers’ Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
‘A moldering old castle… really creepy elderly twins… a long-missing letter: Morton, as usual, deftly mixes all the necessary ingredients for a top-notch romantic thriller.’ Entertainment Weekly
‘A nuanced and exploration of family secrets and betrayal, Morton’s latest is captivating.’ People Magazine
‘Featuring a fresh and thrilling gothic mystery, cinematic storytelling, and fully developed characters who possess layers of deliciously surprising secrets, this complex story is developed at a leisurely but compelling pace that keeps readers hooked’ Library Journal, starred review
‘The Distant Hours demonstrates a new leap in Morton’s authorial choreography. . . [She] sustains an atmosphere of quiet dread rivaling that developed by Sarah Waters in The Little Stranger. . . . A rich treat for fans of historical fiction.’ Washington Post
‘A dilapidated castle, aristocratic twins, a troubled sister and a series of dark secrets cast a whispery spell in Morton’s third book’ Marie Claire, UK
‘An absorbing and haunting read’ Woman & Home, UK
‘A bewitching tale of family secrets and betrayal’ Good Housekeeping, UK
‘A letter points the way to a castle in Kent, which harbors decades of grim secrets, in Morton’s latest. . . . [T]here’s a rewarding, bittersweet payoff in the author’s most gothic tale yet’ Kirkus
‘Morton is the master of the atmospheric old-fashioned novel packed with enough stories to fill all the worn satchels in the Milderhurst attic. The Distant Hours is saturated with the sights and sounds of country life during wartime, Blitz-torn London and the ghostly passageways of the decaying castle. Fans of Morton and new readers alike will be delighted to uncover the truth of what happened in the ‘distant hours’ of the past.’ Bookpage
‘[An] enchanting mystery . . . a bewitching brew encompassing illicit affairs, madness and concealed crime, that builds in intensity as the story twists and turns to a satisfying conclusion’ Who Weekly