Another Review at MyShelf.Com


by Kate Mosse

      In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother Anatole leave Paris for the countryside around the ancient city of Carcassonne. They are going to stay with their recently widowed aunt Isolde. Locals whisper of mysterious happenings, and there is a ruined Visigoth sepulchre in the woods. In 2007 Meredith Martin arrives in the same area to research the life of composer Debussy whose biography she is writing. She is also keen to research her own ancestors, about whom she knows nothing. A chance meeting in Paris and a pack of unusual Tarot cards deepens the mystery further; why does the figure on one of the cards resemble her?

Following on from the bestselling Labyrinth, here is another tale of spooky goings-on, ancient mysteries reaching into the present, and sinister conspiracies. It is a book to immerse oneself in, as the story slowly unfolds and we get to know all about the characters and the plot thickens. To its detriment, all this happens a bit too slowly and the tale starts to lose momentum, drowning in its own sea of detail and daily doings. There is a lot to enjoy, particularly the creepy passages involving old books, devilish curses and the old sepulchre, but less would have been a whole lot more. This is a book that is going to have far wider appeal than just to Da Vinci Code enthusiasts, as it carries echoes from many sources, not least M R James, and latter day gothic novelists such as Barbara Michaels and Virginia Coffman. It is a good, entertaining read, somewhat swimming against the tide in at least partially reviving the gothic, female-in-jeopardy genre of the 80s. You will only hear a cheer from this reviewer at a chance to read this type of thing once more and I can honestly say that it is a good book, but with its awesome length cut down it would have been even better.

The Book

31 October 2007
Fantasy / 1891 and 2007 / Paris and Carcassonne
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008