book review by showhost jan 2014
I borrowed this book from our local library – it’s hardback with 550 pages so you can imagine how heavy it was, not the sort to pop into your handbag.
I went to the library looking for a Kate Mosse book – I had recently watched a televised film based on her book Labyrinth and really enjoyed it – but had never read one of her books. At the time I got this book I also took out ‘Winter Ghosts’ as that was a lot smaller/thinner book & the librarian said it was very popular. I didn’t much care for that book but I did find this one very engrossing.
All her stories seem to have the same format going from past to present day/ present day to past with a link to them. In Labyrinth it was a ring which was found on an archeological dig. In Sepulchre it is a sheet of music by Debussy & a deck of Tarot cards. The link is found in the present day then the story goes back to the past where the story unfolds of how the link came to be involved.
It’s 1891, Paris, the main characters Leonie Vernier and her brother Anatole are going to the Opera. The Opera is by a Prussian Composer, Anatole is late so Leonie goes in alone but the Opera is disrupted by French Nationalist Protestors as they storm the Opera house and things get ugly. It is a turbulent time in Southern France.Anatole is set upon by thugs, this and the mourning of his recently deceased lover prompts their mother to suggest they go and stay
with her brothers widow near the medieval city of Carcassonne in the Domaine de la Cade.
Leonie whilst wondering the grounds finds the Visigoth Sepulchre whose spirits and mysteries still seem to posses the ancient building. She finds books in her uncles library telling of the mysteries and the Tarot cards which are rumoured to hold the power of life and death.
The Domaine has been the subject of many stories of myth & legend of wild animals who roam at night. When children start to go missing and whose dead bodies turn up mauled the locals start to fear that the spirits have been angered by the illicit actions of Anatole & his wife and they storm the Domaine.
Present day, October 2007, Meredith is researching the life of Claude Debussy in a quiet village on the edge of the Pyranees. She is also trying to trace her ancestors & all she has is a sheet of music written by Debussy and an old sepia photograph. Her birth mother was haunted by voices and took her own life when Meredith was very small. When Meredith sees the old photograph in the hotel where she is staying of Leonie, Anatole and their aunt she is struck by the resemblance to her photograph of her great-great-grandfather. She knew he came from around this area and then went to America. She unexpectedly has her Tarot cards read and is given the pack to keep. This sets her in motion in her quest to find out what happened all those years ago in 1891.This is a story of revenge, adventure love, ghosts murder and local history. The author certainly studies her subject and place and puts an enormous amount of information into it, sometimes I thought maybe too much (but maybe she is setting the scene for a tv adaptation) which for me went from engrossing to unengrossing as the unnecessary info became a tad too much but enjoyable all the same. Shame about the ending too as it seemed inconclusive and very supernatural.