The Deadly Hours
By Susanna Kearsley, C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber and Christine Trent
The Deadly Hours is an anthology of four historic novellas that follows a cursed gold watch as it wreaks havoc for more than two centuries The watch, known as La Sirène, was purportedly made from gold stolen from a cathedral in Cartagena. It claims it’s first victim in Italy in 1733, causes an outbreak of the plague in Edinburgh in 1831, is potentially behind a series of murders in London in 1870, and finally arrives in Kent in 1944, where more misfortune befalls its owners and those associated with it. The only way to break the curse is for the watch to be exposed to the elements (water, earth, air and fire) in a specific order, a background plot point that is skillfully woven into each story.
Each novella ties in to the one before and includes characters from other books or series the authors have written. While it’s not necessary to have read the series or previous novels to enjoy the novellas, I did at times feel like I was trying to play catch-up as the author incorporated some backstory to tie in their character’s previous adventures (particular for Lady Darby in the second novella, A Pocketful of Death.) The feel of each time period was evocative, although there was, as is to be expected, slight differences in each author’s style. Despite being a historic fiction writer, I was only familiar with Susanna Kearsley prior to purchasing this novel. However, I will be reading more of each of them. I particularly enjoyed the fourth novella, Siren’s Call, by C.S. Harris, that brought the story of the cursed watch full circle.
My only complaint about this novel was the acknowledgments at the end of each novella. Yes, I was aware of the structure prior to starting the book, but I would have preferred to have been able to read from one section to the next, without having to swipe through acknowledgements that pulled me out of the story. I’d anticipated a more flowing author collaboration like The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White. However, as complaints go, this is minimal.
My rating system:
5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.
4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.
3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.
2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.