The Winter Ghosts

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

IKate Mosse's final installment to her trilogy located in the Southern region of France left me a little bit gutted. I was (and still am) a massive fan of Labyrinth which I honestly thought was beautifully constructed. Having read it whilst visiting the Old Town of Rhodes I found my self slipping under the skin of the book without a backward glance. Sepulchre, however, I found a little bit harder to walk into but after letting it go for a couple of weeks, I did manage to wedge my foot in the door and step into the story. 

Sadly, whilst reading Winter Ghosts I often found myself distracted from the narrative, either by a slight nudge to the shoulder on the tube, or an article in the Metro read by a fellow traveller. I constantly found that I was losing track of the story and either had to re-read passages or flick back to references to remind myself of details. That's not to say that the concept wasn't good - it was, as I have come to expect from Kate Mosse - a tale of lives entwined by the landscape that surrounds them, opening up the cracks in time and discovering the grey areas in-between. 

I felt that the characters were left undeveloped and whispers of relationships didn't satisfy my need to understand the world Mosse had created. I think perhaps I had grown accustomed to her talented detailing of the smallest aspects of her characters' lives and so when I was presented with a story that briskly side-stepped these minute factors, I found it hard to see the picture as a whole.

But the book was too short. In fact when I thought I had at least two chapters left, I was abruptly brought to the conclusion. The pages beyond the end were filled with acknowledgements, reading group pointers, and a stray chapter produced to support the narrative along with suggested reading and a brief history of France. Such a shame. I got so fed up with all the extra text at the back that I huffed loudly and gave up. And it takes a lot to make me huff.

To cap it off I felt a little bit insulted by the photos which accompanied each chapter heading. I thought that was something belonging to the world of children's literature, a guiding hand to help the infant imagination. But in retrospect, perhaps Mosse knew her fans would find it hard to picture the hazy world, as they were rushed through a new landscape and thrust back into the world of the Medieval French Cathars.

Suffice it to say I was pretty disappointed. All hail the Labyrinth, but take away the set up of a novel and Winter Ghosts becomes little more than a camp-side story: intriguing at first, but easily forgotten by the morning.

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