I love Barbara Erskine books and on a recent holiday found ‘The Darkest Hour’ hardback in a cruise ship library. One I hadn’t read, but I started it with trepidation. It’s always a bit nerve wracking when a favourite author has a new book in case it doesn’t quite live up to expectations – a bit like seeing an old boyfriend! No need to have worried with this story though.
I don’t want to give away the plot, but from the Prologue to final Epilogue and Postscript, Barbara Erskine writes such engaging prose that she entangles the reader in the narrative almost unwittingly, somewhat like the way she blurs the lines between the supernatural and the real world so that reading her works is more of an experience than an activity. I have become jaded by dual plots that switch back and forth in time, but here both Lucy and Evie are such well defined characters and the wartime and present day settings are so easy to picture that it is impossible not to be totally entranced by the writing. As the two strands twist together and the plot surprises and entertains the book is totally absorbing.
What really resonates throughout ‘The Darkest Hour’ is the meticulous way in which the novel has been researched and it is obvious that the personal link with her father’s experience has enabled Erskine to write with genuine passion.
I’d recommend reading ‘The Darkest Hour’ an a rainy afternoon or, as I did, as a lovely holiday treat.