The Winter Ghosts

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The Winter Ghosts By Kate Mosse, book reviewAs a huge fan of Kate Mosse’s previous novels, Labyrinth and Sepulchre, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Winter Ghosts. I met her in 2008, and she said she was working on the follow up to Labyrinth and Sepulchre, to feature the recurring character Audric Baillard. I assumed The Winter Ghosts was this follow up.

The Winter Ghosts takes place mainly in 1928, although the story is being told in 1933. A young Englishman, Freddie Watson, who lost his brother in the Great War, is travelling through the south of France, in the Corbieres/Languedoc region. He has a car accident, and seeks refuge in the village of Nulle, where he hears an extraordinary story, and meets the mysterious Fabrissa.

The first thing I noticed about The Winter Ghosts, before I even started reading it, was its size. It is half the length of the previous novels, perhaps less, and in addition the typeface is large and the text on the page has a lot of white space around it. There are also pictures, line drawings. In short (literally), it is not as substantial a novel as her previous ones, and I read it in one day. It is a very pretty book though, in hardback with no dustjacket, the cover is dark blue with silver print on it.

Starting the novel, I was filled with anticipation. Mosse writes beautifully about this region of France and its people, so I had high hopes for The Winter Ghosts. I wasn’t disappointed – her style and use of language was wonderfully evocative, yet clear and easy to follow.

However, as I continued reading, I suddenly realised I was halfway through the book and the story had not properly got going. I was still in what would be the introduction of a longer novel, but it should have been long past in this short one.

I cannot fault the story itself, although I did see the twist very early, which I never have before with Mosse’s novels – which makes me wonder if it is intentionally obvious. The story is engaging, well written and has the usual elements of suspense and a little fear. I think it would have benefitted from less introduction and more of the main story though.

Before The Winter Ghosts was published, Mosse published a story called The Cave as part of the Adult Quick Reads series. I haven’t read it, but I know it is just a short version of The Winter Ghosts. I think that she wrote The Cave, and then decided to turn it into a novel; or perhaps wrote The Winter Ghosts and then shortened it. One thing is clear – The Winter Ghosts is a short novel, and is not the follow up to Labyrinth and Sepulchre that I expected. Audric Baillard does not feature in it.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Winter Ghosts, Mosse as usual has written an engaging and beautifully written story, but I think I expected too much of it. Or rather, my expectations were wrong. Had I realised it was not a follow up novel, I would not have compared it to the previous ones and not turned every page expecting Baillard to appear.

As it is, I would definately recommend The Winter Ghosts, as I would recommend Labyrinth and Sepulchre, but if you have already read them, remember this one is not connected to them!


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Winter Ghosts (The)
by Kate Mosse

4 Comments on "The Winter Ghosts"

  1. Lucy
    23/01/2011 at 20:44 Permalink

    Hi

    I love Kate Mosse’s writing as well….after studying French at University I’m particularly fascinated with that period in history in the South of France as well..

    I enjoyed the Winter Ghosts, though because I love her writing I wanted MORE. However, I just wanted to say that I don’t believe this is the follow up to Labyrinth and Sepulchre; it’s a bit of a snippet to keep us going. The third novel of the trilogy has yet to be published :-)

  2. eilidhcatriona
    eilidhcatriona
    24/01/2011 at 11:53 Permalink

    Hi Lucy, thanks for your comment – The Winter Ghosts definitely isn’t connected to Labyrinth & Sepulchre, but I can’t wait for the third novel in that trilogy!

  3. Mary
    12/09/2012 at 15:21 Permalink

    I actually liked this book alot. It was a strain to put it down :) Thumbs up Kate 😀

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Written by eilidhcatriona
eilidhcatriona

A Scottish lass in her late twenties living in London. A prolific reader always interested in something new.

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