Title: The Secret of the Irish Castle
Author: Santa Montefiore
Call #: FIC/MON
Clocking in at an impressive 470 pages, the latest book in the Deverill Chronicles does not disappoint. Once again, Montefiore transports readers to the Emerald Isle and instantly immerses them in the epic Deverill saga. This latest chapter begins in 1939 and takes the reader up through the 1950's. The main cast of characters is once again present: Kitty Deverill, Bridie Doyle, Jack O'Leary and Martha Wallace all have, for varying reasons, come home to Ballinakelly--as have their secrets. The plot is very similar to many historical fiction novels set in Ireland: the rich vs the poor, the Protestants vs the Catholics, all mixed in with a little bit of the supernatural. What really draws the reader in is the deft way in which Montefiore weaves strong character development with a great plot. Unlike the previous two novels, Girl in the Castle and Daughters of Ireland, it took a bit longer than usual to really get into the story. Once I did, however, the 470 pages flew by. I was reading the book every chance I got: at the breakfast table, during my lunch break, during commercial breaks...basically any excuse I could make to read just one more chapter.
I should note that while the book can be read as a stand-alone novel, I would highly recommend you read the books in order. Montefiore assumes the reader as read the previous novels and does not spend much time catching the reader up on what they might have missed. If, like me, you haven't read the books since they were first published--don't worry, the story comes back to you pretty quickly. While it's not 100% clear that this truly is the last of the Deverill Chronicles, Montefiore did bring the plot lines full circle and I could easily see this as the final chapter in their story. That being said, Montefiore has developed the characters so well, an argument could easily be made for her to write the stories of future Deverill generations.
Highly recommended for fans of Kate Morton, Lauren Willig and more.