17 May 2017

Book Review: The Last Night by Cesca Major

"In a quiet coastal village, Irina spends her days restoring furniture, passing the time in peace and hiding away from the world. A family secret, long held and never discussed, casts a dark shadow and Irina chooses to withdraw into her work. When an antique bureau is sent to her workshop, the owner anonymous, Irina senses a history to the object that makes her uneasy. As Irina begins to investigate the origins of the piece, she unearths the secrets it holds within.

Decades earlier, another young woman kept secrets. Her name was Abigail. over the course of one summer, she fell in love, and dreamed of the future. But Abigail could not know that a catastrophe loomed, and this event would change the course of many lives for ever..."

Rating: 5/5

I am a huge fan of Cesca Major's books, historical fiction with wonderful stories that you can just fall in love with. Her debut novel The Silent Hours was an absolute triumph, I loved every page and so was very excited to find out her second novel was imminent. I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of The Last Night, and I couldn't wait to read it and eagerly got stuck in.

This is a book with 2 stories running alongside each other, but in very different times. In the modern day, Irina is a furniture restorer, and lovingly brings back old pieces from the brink of being ruined. She's also hiding a secret of her own, something that hangs over her at all times. When she's sent a piece of furniture to be restored, it too seems it has secrets within its depths, and Irina isn't sure she wants to reveal all of them. Years ago, in the 1950's, lived Abigail, a young woman living in Devon with her sister and her husband. Abigail is settling into a new life there after leaving her home of Bristol after the death of her parents, but is struggling to feel like she is at home in her sister's house. Her brother-in-law Larry isn't exactly welcoming either, and Abigail feels uneasy. But as Abigail meets more people, and opens up her heart to love, she has no idea what is just around the corner...

This book was utterly brilliant from the beginning. I love how we are introduced to the two stories, then we alternate between the time periods and the stories, and I was left wondering how it would all end up being tied together, and as the book progressed, it became clear and I couldn't wait to see what was happening and how it'd end. Slowly, everything came together and it was so cleverly done, I really didn't see the way it was done coming at all. There was an element of something strange going on with Irina and the bureau, something I wouldn't usually like in a book but it worked for this particular story, and added a certain something to the atmosphere, and definitely built up the tension.

I loved both characters in the book, and the imagery Cesca Major uses throughout to bring these stories to life was perfect. The setting of Devon for Abigail's story was perfect, and I loved the descriptions of the town, it was very vivid in my mind as I was reading. Abigail's turmoil at being uprooted from her home to somewhere unfamiliar will ring true with many readers, and her story became more compulsive as it unfolded. I was on tenterhooks waiting to see what would happen with her, and couldn't stop reading to find out more.

The book is based on a real historical event, and I had no idea that it had taken place. As the book hurtled towards this catastrophic event, I could feel the impending doom of something going to happen but couldn't work out what. When it did happen, it was shocking to read, Major writes so realistically and brilliantly, you truly feel like you are there. It was horrific, truly frightening but I just couldn't stop reading. I cannot recommend this read highly enough, whether or not you like historical fiction, because this is a brilliant novel. The book is packed with mystery, intrigue, tension and emotion, I really like felt like I had been on an emotional rollercoaster when I turned the final page. Simply brilliant, and I can't wait for more from Cesca Major.

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