My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Most people will like Kate Mosse from her novel Labyrinth and whilst I loved that novel I must admit this one didn’t wow me. For a start the majority of people that see ghost in a book title and the tagline “Do you believe in ghosts?” will possibly feel a little cheated. So, this is your warning, the ghost element of this book is pretty lacking. There is certainly no fear factor and limited ‘ghostly’ atmosphere (in my opinion).
However, the story isn’t bad. Young guy, grieving, previous mental breakdown, crashes in a snowstorm in the Pyrenees mountains. Gets rescued and taken to an isolated village where everything is not quite as it seems. Not to mention mysterious caves in the mountains that haven’t been accessed for a number of years. Sounds good right?
So, trying to figure out why I didn’t love this story, I think there were a couple of reasons:
- The writing was very slow. It felt like the reader had to wade through several pages to mine a nugget of story out. In fact, the book could probably have been a fair bit shorter and would have been much better for it.
- The novel was full of melancholy and there were very few areas of light to be found in the pages.
- There was no wow factor. I kept waiting for something unpredictable, some kind of plot twist, something I’d overlooked to come back to light, but it never arrived. That very thing that keeps you reading just never happened so it left me feeling a little deflated and unrewarded as I had ploughed my way through the book to the end.
I didn’t give this a 1 star, so here is what I liked about the book.
- The time hop between 14th century period with Cathars/fear and the 20th century with the after-effects of the world war/grief storyline was nicely handled between the two periods.
- The location was brilliantly described and intriguing. Isolated villages, snow-covered mountain and unexplored caves. It’s really made me want to visit the region.
- The story behind The Winter Ghosts is really insightful and describes what inspired Mosse. I am quite intrigued by a couple of un-reads on her suggested reading list.
Overall, not great but not bad either.
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