The Last Hours by Minette Walters is an historical novel set in Develish, Dorsetshire in 1348 as the black death begins to spread throughout the counties. I've long been fascinated by the plague and so an historical fiction novel about the plague was a match made in heaven.
Lady Anne of Develish tries to protect her serfs (200 of them) from the plague by taking steps in sanitation and care of the sick that was unusual at the time. At 555 pages, it's a significant and compelling read and I soon became engrossed in the plot. But the ending!
I was rolling along with the story, happily invested in the characters and looking forward to the conclusion until a sudden and unexpected ending and the surprise that a sequel is coming in October 2018. What?
The Last Hours didn't end on a cliffhanger, but perhaps I could have handled it better if it was. Instead, the book felt severed and the ending rudely wrenched from my hands with just a vague hint of what's to come in the sequel.
Knowing this is the first novel for Minette Walters in 10 years, I wonder if the original manuscript was too long and the publisher or editor decided to divide it in two. This would explain the illogical end point and the feeling of being wrenched prematurely from the story with a 12 month gap until the next book.
This was heading towards a 5 star rating, but I just can't get over the ending. What a shame. Needless to say I'll be first in the queue for the sequel next year.
My rating = ****