Kate Mosse’s “The Winter Ghosts” is Book Made of Legend

One of my favorite writers is historical fiction author Kate Mosse. The review for this blog will be on her most recent book, “The Winter Ghosts,” but I’ll be talking about Kate too. I not only love to read and review books, I like to give you a glimpse into the authors as well. Maybe it is the journalist side of me still coming out, but I love to do features on people and authors are a great choice.

I first came across Mosse with her book “Sepulchre” and absolutely loved it (too bad I didn’t have the blog set-up then!). In fact it is one of my favorite books. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly. She became first well-known in 2005 with “Labryrinth” when it became an international bestseller and was the top selling book in the UK that year. It and “Sepulchre” are books in the Languedoc Trilogy. The final book in this series, “Citadel” will be published this year and I can’t tell you how excited I am for its debut!

Her writing style intrigues me. It is not only extraordinarily precise writing, with astounding historical details and fine tuned characters, but they leave you feeling an eerie haunting. Not really in a horror sort of way, but more like it delved into your soul and left part of itself there. She is a literary genius and should be commended for her work, which by the way she is. Besides winning numerous awards, she is also co-founder and honorary director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.  She writes fiction, non-fiction (Becoming a Mother, The House: Behind the Scenes at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), literary novels, short stories, articles, columns for many publications, and is a well-known British television and radio guest.  She is a friendly soul and lives in both England and southwest France.

Her latest book “The Winter Ghosts” is quite short compared to “The Labyrinth” and “The Sepulchre” but still delivers a superb story based on her own area of France and an ancient mystery surrounding the area. According to information about the book from her publisher (Putnam, Penguin Group) Mosse had come across a shocking, lesser known legend about the Cathar people in the Languedoc region in France circa 1328. Apparently involving entombment and mass execution of the last of these people, it lingered in her mind and she turned the history and tale into a mystery story that also includes her main character, Freddie Watson, as he lingers into the area in the last 1920s mourning the loss of his brother to World War 1.

World War 1 (1914-1918) took a toll on the people of Britain and France. Mosse entertwines this struggle for family and friends remained into her story by opening it with Freddie in 1928, who is still struggling over a brother lost to the war and his family’s turmoil stemming from it. As he is trying to find some solace from this mind struggle, he is traveling through the French Pyrenees. Mosse really takes time to build the character of Freddie and let’s us amble with him while he finds his way. Getting caught up in what seems to be another time period, we are unsure as to what is happening and if the people around him are truly real.  This creates the spooky element and gives the books its air of supernatural.

As he finds true love in a woman named Fabrissa who seems to be real to him, yet not exist to others, he follows the trail to another time, another people, and finds that her spirit was truly with him all along.  He most certainly redeems them from their loss and is overwhelmed by this redemption not only of these “ghosts,” but of himself and his life as well.

Great story that will surprise and touch you in the end. Definately worth a read. It didn’t propel me to frantically turn each page, and it is not suspenseful, but I did wish to finish it to find out how his confusion and turmoil come to have a life of their own. The book had great character development and historical detail.  After reading it once, I realized I would want to read it again based on the knowledge I had from reading it the first time. The folklore spun within this book is very inviting.

For more information, go to www.katemosse.com.

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