Review: In a Time Never Known by Kat Michels

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I initially picked up this book because it’s set during the American Civil War – a period I’m interested in learning more about. From its blurb I learnt that it centred around a spy ring, which only furthered my interest.

This book is quite hard to compare to any historical fiction I’ve read recently – and I say this as a good thing, because I found it refreshingly unique. Kat Michels crafted a twisty plot full of suspense, and some quite shocking moments. I could never predict which way the story would go next, and the unpredictability kept me eagerly moving through each chapter.

Probably my favourite aspect of this novel was the complexity of the characters. Multiple perspectives were followed at various points, and every single one of those characters were morally grey. My opinion of each character leapt around repeatedly as Kat Michels explored the lengths people will go to in times of war.

Not knowing much about the period in question, I can’t comment too much on historical accuracy – but it did seem as though a lot of research had gone into this novel. I certainly felt the image of the war created by Kat Michels was believable, and multiple angles were presented, offering depth to the story. The author certainly didn’t back away from describing some of the more disturbing aspects of war – it’s worth noting that at points the book is rather graphic.

While I did really enjoy the story, what made this book a 4* rather than a 5* read was the writing. This was Kat Michels’ debut adult novel, and I felt that it could have done with undergoing another round of edits in order to make the writing really stand out. For me there were often too many chunks of very long paragraphs which halted momentum previously gained. I also feel there could have been more made of the dramatic twists, in order to have them really pack a punch.

All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing debut, and I’ll be looking out with interest to see what Kat Michels writes next.


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