Kate Mosse

All posts tagged Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers – Kate Mosse

Published March 26, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Bringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties . . .

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

What did I think?:

When this book first came out, I have to admit, I hesitated. I love Kate Mosse’s writing when she turns her hand to the Gothic i.e. The Mistletoe Bride and Other Haunting Tales which I’m currently reading for my Short Stories Challenge and her novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter. However, when I read the first in her Languedoc series Labyrinth, years and years ago, I was slightly underwhelmed and haven’t completed the series which is a shame as I’m usually quick to devour historical fiction. The size of this novel might also be quite intimidating to those who fancy a quick read – at 603 pages in my Kindle edition, it’s a book that may take you a fair while to digest, depending on how fast you read and how invested you are in the story. When I saw Richard and Judy put it on their Spring Book Club list here in the UK and as I enjoy following that list on a seasonal basis, I was keen to give the author’s historical fiction another bash.

Kate Mosse, author of The Burning Chambers.

Straight off the mark I must stress that Kate Mosse has a clear talent for setting a scene. The reader is dropped into 16th Century France where the political and religious tensions between the Huguenot and Catholic religions is explored intricately, which has startling consequences for our main character, Minou and her family as an old secret about their ancestors is unearthed. The small towns in France at this period of time are vividly brought to life through the author’s eyes and with the use of a likeable, strong female lead. There is certainly enough mystery and intrigue to keep the reader interested and turning the pages as the puzzle comes together and there are definite moments of excitement, particularly near the end where I found myself much more invested in the story.

The French medieval city of Carcassonne, the setting for The Burning Chambers.

Image from: http://fiveminutehistory.com/10-amazing-facts-french-medieval-city-carcassonne/

With all these amazing attributes to the narrative, I’m wondering why I’m struggling to make it clear how I felt about this novel? The fact is – it is highly enjoyable with great characterisation (particularly Minou and some of the more villainous individuals) and boasts a fascinating plot which is not difficult or laborious to read. Indeed, even though the novel is lengthy, it didn’t feel like I was aching to finish it either which is always a bonus. It’s hard to describe but I think it was purely a personal disconnect for me with the narrative in general. I found that whilst I liked Minou and was curious about her family history, I didn’t care enough about what happened to her. Perhaps the only way I can explain myself is that I found the novel perfectly pleasant but it didn’t light a fire within me? I hope that makes sense!

I find it really strange how I seem to have completely connected with the author’s fiction when she writes with a Gothic slant and twice now, I’ve felt less enamoured regarding her historical/medieval work. Her character development is always terrific, the element of mystery superb and as I mentioned earlier, the way she sets a scene second to none, making it quite clear the amount of research she has carried out to take the reader so expertly to that particular period of time. I strongly believe I must be in the minority with my opinion as I’ve already seen some overwhelmingly positive reviews for The Burning Chambers on Goodreads and I would still urge people to read this for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above. Saying that, I’d be interested to know if you’ve read this or any of Kate Mosse’s other work and what your opinions were?

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Part Three

Published October 23, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to my third instalment of what I’ll be reading short story wise for the rest of this year. I mentioned in my Short Stories Challenge Part Two all the way back in April that I was becoming quite disillusioned with short stories. I had read a few that I hadn’t connected as well with as others and it was becoming less enjoyable to read them. At the moment, I’m feeling pretty much the same. I have read some great short stories since April including Set-Up by Dianne Gray and The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter however I’ve also read a couple where I didn’t get on so well with them i.e. The Coincidence Of The Arts by Martin Amis and Four Hundred Rabbits by Simon Levack. I understand that I’m not going to enjoy every single short story that I come across but I’m hoping for great things this time around. At this moment in time, I should be on Part Four of my Short Stories Challenge and I’m only on Part Three. This is because I’m just not feeling motivated to pick up a short story each week like I had planned to do. Ah well, fingers crossed for these!

Ringing Night by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

Safe Passage by Ramona Ausubel from the collection A Guide To Being Born.

The Chicken And The Egg by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You.

“Sorry” Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea by Helen Oyeyemi from the collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.

The Little Photographer by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Birds And Other Stories.

The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Navigator by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.

The Small Hand by Susan Hill (stand-alone).

Sainte-Thérèse by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

Sad, Dark Thing by Michael Marshall Smith from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Why The Yew Tree Lives So Long by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

Published March 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s Why The Yew Tree Lives So Long all about?:

This is a story about a particular group of yew trees including what they have seen through history and how they bemoan the folly of men.

What did I think?:

Well, this was an interesting little piece! I believe I’ve mentioned before, what I really enjoy about this collection is that after each story, Kate Mosse puts in a little afterword to explain what inspired her to write it which gives you a very fresh perspective, straight from the horse’s mouth so as to speak, and a great insight into the mind of the author whilst she was writing. This tale is remarkably short compared to the others and couldn’t be more different to what I’ve read in this collection so far. The author mentions that this particular tale was actually commissioned for The Woodlands Trust in order to protect certain trees from being destroyed and focuses on a particular group of yew trees in Kingley Vale which have been suggested to have been present since the time of the Vikings.

The yew trees at Kingley Vale, amongst the oldest living things in England.

The yew trees in this story describe their beautiful surroundings and appear to be peaceful and contented until the invasion of the Vikings is the beginning of many wars on their land. As they decay into the ground, they once again rise up and live on and grow to see more wars and horrific fighting between men. They are not only dumbstruck by why men would fight amongst themselves but are also saddened that blood is being spilled for no good reason. The story doesn’t really have a definitive sort of ending, we just feel bad for the trees as the reader when they continue to witness acts of violence. As a story promoting nature and the importance of these “immortal” trees, I think it’s a fantastic piece of writing and I loved that it took on a historical, mythological stand as we see events through the eyes of these ancient, knowledgeable trees. Personally, I would have loved a bit more length and perhaps a bit more detail about what the trees saw but rest assured, I think it does its job splendidly of illustrating how important these trees are.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: A Child’s Problem by Reggie Oliver from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Part One

Published January 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aniapps.shortstories

Hello everyone and welcome to the first part of my Short Stories Challenge for 2018. In part five of my challenge in 2017, like many of the other parts, I had some absolutely fantastic finds like Seeing Double by Sara Maitland, Unplugged by Dianne Gray and The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King. However, I also had some that I wasn’t particularly fussed about, like The Man From Mars by Margaret Atwood and Freaks by Tess Gerritsen, both of which were huge disappointments. Here’s what I’ve got lined up for the first few months of 2018:

The House At The End Of The World by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky.

Which Reminded Her, Later by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You.

Books And Roses by Helen Oyeyemi from the collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.

The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Birds And Other Stories.

The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe.

Dibblespin by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.

Remmy Rothstein Toes The Line by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone).

Why The Yew Tree Lives So Long by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

A Child’s Problem by Reggie Oliver from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

At The Mountain Of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

Published September 16, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The House On The Hill all about?:

Set in the 1920’s, this is the story of a young woman who goes to visit her cousin in the countryside and her experiences with a house on the estate that has a strange light burning in one of its windows.

What did I think?:

When I first got my hands on this short story collection I was quite excited. Kate Mosse is a great British author and I have enjoyed her novels in the past but what I love most about her writing is when she turns things a little bit darker, eerie and Gothic. The name of this collection perfectly describes the stories within: “haunting tales,” that are all a little mysterious and unsettling in their execution. I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read so far but haven’t been overly blown away – until now. The House On The Hill was a wonderful short story and a perfect example of Kate Mosse’s writing at its absolute finest. It reminded me a lot of Daphne du Maurier and was the ideal story to curl up with when the weather is turning a little bit colder as we head into Autumn.

Our female protagonist is actually called Daphne (strange coincidence?) and when it begins, she is staying for a weekend with her cousin Teddy, at a house he has leased for a party called Dean Hall. We get the sense that Daphne is a little fragile, she mentions a husband called Douglas who has recently left her but we don’t learn too much about the circumstances of this until much later on in the narrative. Daphne is instantly attracted both to a large dolls house in the property that is exquisite in its detail, down to the intricate furniture and folded letter in the study and to another much larger actual house on the estate. She notices the house on her first night when she seems to see a light in one of the windows which is extinguished almost as soon as she begins watching. It is not until after the party that night when she is woken up suddenly by a strange light in the sky and when she looks outside, the house on the hill appears to be burning. It is now that the story really ramps up a gear and we learn much more about the mysterious house, its connection with the dolls house in Dean Hall and about Daphne herself and what she has had to suffer in her past.

Kate Mosse has really outdone herself with this story. I love being pleasantly surprised, especially by a short story as there really isn’t that much time to engage with the reader in comparison with a longer novel. The author has pulled it off flawlessly and the unexpected nature of what happens in the second half of the tale was not only delightful to read but utterly compelling and brilliant. I always appreciate a darker, more ghostly edge to a story and the atmosphere that was created in The House On The Hill was almost magical and definitely transported me to a different time and place. This is easily my favourite story in the collection so far and I’m now highly anticipating the ones to come – although they’ve got quite a lot to live up to now!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Man In The Ditch by Lisa Tuttle from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Four

Published August 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from: https://thereadersroom.org/2015/08/07/book-worms-life-in-books-short-stories/

Hello everyone and welcome to the fourth part of my Short Stories Challenge 2017. I’ve had quick a rocky road in Part Three – there were quite a few short stories that I was disappointed in, namely Possum by Matthew Holness and An Anxious Man by James Lasdun. However I did read Word Processor Of The Gods by Stephen King which was fantastic (the King hardly ever disappoints!). Onwards and upwards and hoping for better things in Part Four.

Vessel by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You.

Free Fruit For Young Widows by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.

Monte Verità by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Birds And Other Stories.

The Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe.

Little Radish by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.

Go Deep by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone).

The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

The Man In The Ditch by Lisa Tuttle from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft.

A Place For Violence by Kevin Wignall from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Drowned Village by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Published June 10, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Drowned Village all about?:

This is the story of a young boy called Gaston whom after tragic circumstances in his own life becomes embroiled in a strange ceremony to celebrate the ghostly inhabitants of a village under the sea.

What did I think?:

I love anything with a bit of a ghostly feel, a thrill, something that chills me and makes my heart beat a little faster and when it happens to be a bit fairy-tale inspired also, you can pretty much guarantee I’m going to be a happy little bookworm. I’m not quite sure if The Drowned Village delivered on all of these counts. There were parts of it that were absolutely beautiful and certainly made me (almost) shiver but it didn’t seem to hit the spot in exactly the right way I was hoping.

As Kate Mosse tells the reader in the Author’s Note which she writes after each story (which I love by the way!) this story is based on an old Breton folk tale which of course, with my love of the mythical and other-worldly I was very intrigued by. It is a very fascinating concept, one of tides entirely reclaiming a village and its final stubborn inhabitants who refused to move. However, on certain nights you can still hear the villagers moaning under the water and a dim light under the waves can still be seen if you look very closely.

However, before all of this, we meet our main character, a lad called Gaston who is receiving a very coveted scholarship at school to go and study at a boarding school many miles away. We get the sense Gaston has already suffered too much in his young life from his worn clothes, demeanour and difficult relationship with his parents, who also seem to be a clear target for other children to make fun of. When tragedy strikes, Gaston who has no other relatives is sent to live temporarily with a school friend who tells him all about the drowned village and how annually, a festival is held by the believers of the village where the ghostly sea people return to the land for a brief period of time. At first, I wondered how Gaston and this other thread of the story were going to be connected but it does end up merging together near the end when he becomes involved unintentionally in the ceremony.

So there were quite a lot of things in this story that I enjoyed. I really liked the character of Gaston, his vulnerability but also incredible internal strength under adversity and as mentioned earlier, I did appreciate the folk tale aspect of the ghostly village people. There are some quite potentially frightening moments during the annual ceremony at the festival but I can’t help but feeling like they could have been executed slightly better – perhaps with a cliffhanger of an ending that kind of almost happened but didn’t in the end. I think if it had ended in the way I was expecting I would have been left with a better overall feeling of this story and don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed it, just maybe not as much as I was hoping to. That’s not to say that others won’t feel the complete opposite though!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Alice Through The Plastic Sheet by Robert Shearman from the collection A Book Of Horrors