Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart


Wildfire at Midnight is set on the Isle of Skye during the week leading up to the queen’s coronation. Giannetta Brooke is a successful fashion model and wants to escape London during the festivities in order to take a rest from her busy schedule. She ends up in an isolated hotel in Camasunary, an area that is popular with climbers. Little does she know that she has walked right into the middle of a murder investigation – a few weeks previous a young local woman was killed in an eerie manner that seems almost sacrificial. Added to this is Giannetta’s discovery that her ex-husband is also staying in the hotel. Her relaxing holiday quickly turns tense and even frightening as everyone in the hotel, including her ex-husband, is a suspect. No one can be trusted.

When I began reading this novel I was pleasantly surprised because it seemed that it was going to follow the format of a traditional murder mystery instead of a romantic suspense novel – something a little bit different for Stewart. However, it turned out to be true to her form with all of the signature elements her novels usually embrace. There are the stunning descriptions of the landscape, the plucky yet vulnerable heroine, the two love interests and the fast-paced plot. In this novel, the usual Stewart formula doesn’t quite produce the magic that it usually does for me. The characters seem too wooden and the romance is not very well developed. The effort seems almost half-hearted. I did enjoy the novel, it is just not of the stellar quality of some of her other books. I suppose when you write a book a year for nearly two decades some of them will be better than others. I’d recommend Wildfire at Midnight for true Stewart fans who don’t mind a few misses or for readers who are extremely fond of a Scottish setting.

Mary Stewart posts so far:

The Little Broomstick – Pining for the West

Nine Coaches Waiting – Quixotic Magpie

Stormy Petrel – She Reads Novels

Wildfire at Midnight – TBR 313

Have I missed yours?


22 thoughts on “Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart

  1. I reread Wildfire at Midnight earlier this year. It was as good as the first time I read it almost 30 years ago.

    This morning I finished reading Thornyhold for the first time. The first few pages were a bit depressing so I almost put in back on the bookshelf. I pressed on and am glad I did as I loved it. Thornyhold is now my favorite Mary Stewart book.

    Thank you for the Mary Stewart Reading Week. I’ve been enjoying it very much.


  2. I’m sorry this was disappointing. I’ll read it one day, because I love the Hebrides, but after Loving “My Brother Michael” I have to say that Mary Stewart’s other Greek books are my top priority,


  3. That cover would draw me in as well! and here I thought the Hodder covers were the best.

    We did of course have similar reactions to this book 🙂 but we both have done better with our second choices. And as I just commented over on Jane’s blog, now I want My Brother Michael – right now!


    1. This is also a Hodder cover, just an earlier one. They have a knack for eye-catching covers, don’t they?
      My Brother Michael is really good. I loved reading about the Delphi area and the ancient rites and customs of the oracle.


  4. I probably won’t go out of my way to read this particular Stewart novel, but I was intrigued by Nancy’s comment above about Thornyhold, since I picked up a copy at a used book sale over the summer. I’d also like to read some more of her novels with a Greek setting since I enjoyed it so much in The Moonspinners (which I posted about today, by the way: http://missbibliophile.blogspot.com/2013/09/mary-stewart-reading-week.html).


    1. I really liked Thornyhold, though it is quite different from her novels written in the fifties. It is more ‘gentle’ and has a supernatural element. I haven’t read This Rough Magic, but I can vouch for My Brother Michael if you want another Greek read. Thanks for participating!


    1. Funny you say that – the heroine’s name in Nine Coaches Waiting (my next book) is Linda Martin! Not as unique as some of the others. Isn’t Thornyhold fantastic?


  5. I managed to get to Stormy Petrel, and although I found it average the Scottish setting was brillliant so I’m glad to hear Stewart used it more than once. I’d read this book just for that.


    1. Stormy Petrel was one of her later novels. To get the true flavor of Stewart I think you need to read one that was published in the fifties or sixties. I hope you’ll try her again. Thank you for reading along!


  6. A few years ago I visited Skye with 3 friends and stayed at a fishing/climbing/walking hotel called Sligachan. We agreed it could be the setting for Wildfire at Midnight.

    Of course I had to reread it when I got home.


  7. I’m sorry the usual Stewart formula didn’t quite work for you this time! I’ll still read it though, as I would like to read all of her books eventually.


  8. I’m a day late and a dollar short as usual. Didn’t realise you had started the MS reading week. Will check out the bookshop/library tomorrow for a title. I like the sound of Stormy Petrel.


    1. Time just gets away from us – I can’t believe it is already September. Stormy Petrel has a really beautiful Scottish setting – I can see why you’d like the sound of it!


  9. I was sorry to hear you didn’t love this one as much as other Stewart novels but you’re right with such a large portfolio of books some of them are bound to not be as great as others. I thought this one was a short and simple novel for my first Stewart read. I am really looking forward to reading more of her books.


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