At the Stroke of Midnight – Jenni Keer | Book Review | #AtTheStrokeOfMidnight | @JenniKeer @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources

It’s 1923 and in a decade that promises excitement and liberation, Pearl Glenham and her father are invited to a mysterious country house party on the Dorset coast, by a total stranger.

Her father claims not to have any prior association with Highcliffe House, but upon arrival, it is apparent that he has a shared history with several of the guests, although he won’t admit it. Belatedly discovering that her father was blackmailed into attending, Pearl’s worries are compounded when their host fails to arrive…

Intimidated by everyone at the party, she escapes to the nearby cove and stumbles upon a mysterious mercury clock hidden in a cave. This strange encounter sets in motion a series of events that will culminate in an horrific house fire, claiming the lives of all the guests, including Pearl herself.

But then Pearl wakes up back in the cave, seemingly destined never to live past midnight. She can repeat the day. But can she change its outcome?


Congratulations and happy publication day to Jenni Keer. 📚🍾 My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite and to the publisher for the ecopy to review via Netgalley. At the Stroke of Midnight is published by Boldwood and is available in ebook, audio, and paperback (12 March 2024). I absolutely loved Jenni Keer’s previous book, No 23 Burlington Square (reviewed here) and didn’t hesitate in saying yes please to reviewing this one.

This is another historical fiction story, set in 1923. 19 year old Pearl Glenham lives in Suffolk with her rather strict widowed father Raymond and doesn’t have much of a life – she is basically at his beck and call and is treated more like a servant than a daughter. When an invite from a mysterious Mr Badgerwood (which is really more of a summons than a friendly invitation) arrives for Raymond to attend Highcliffe House her father is insistent they must travel. Pearl however has misgivings about the whole weekend – and she is quite right to.

If the previous book had a ‘Sliding Doors’ feel then this one has ‘Groundhog Day’ vibes. There is clearly a mystery and much secrecy surrounding Highcliffe House and its previous inhabitants and unusual events around a mercury clock (a clepsydra) lead Pearl to living the same day, every day. With characters that are not all as they seem and who mostly seem to be hiding something, Pearl must turn investigator to find out how to stop this never ending spiral that she finds herself caught in.

There are not many likeable characters here which range from the lecherous to the arrogant, the exception being Pearl and Ellery (her Highcliffe accomplice – there was great chemistry between these two) but Pearl shows an unexpected maturity in her quest to solve a long standing mystery and also attempts to break free from the restricted life she has with her father showing a playful side that is ready for new adventures. She is rather obsessed with clocks and timepieces, each one being set to 4 minutes past 10 – the reason why will become clear in the story. Her lack of a social life makes her awkward with company however her love of swimming and the freedom it gives her is like a balm for her soul. I loved the vivid descriptions of the Dorset coast setting with the forbidding Highcliffe House being a character in its own right.

At the Stroke of Midnight has elements of murder and mystery with a touch of magical realism. Pearl was undoubtedly the star of the story and her transition from a socially awkward young girl was marvellous to see. I enjoyed this book very much, I did initially wonder if the repetition would bother me but this was managed so well and I was totally invested in the story throughout. Jenni Keer is a superb writer and I have no hesitation in recommending this one.

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who lives in the Suffolk countryside. Her lifelong passion for reading became a passion for writing and she had two contemporary romance novels published in 2019. She has now embraced her love of the past to write twisty, turny historicals, and The Legacy of Halesham Hall was shortlisted for the Romantic Historical Novel of the Year in 2023.

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