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. Please leave a like/helpful vote if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
This novel continues as entry #4 in the Nell West series and we catch up with Nell and Michael a little after the events of “The Silence”. In this story, Michael takes the forefront of the strange circumstances with Nell becoming more of the second character and completing the secondary research investigation role. I really enjoyed this shift of perspective and think it brought some freshness to the Nell West stories.
This story follows Michael visiting a reclusive old lady Luisa Gilmore at Fosse House in Norfolk. After viewing her collection of papers the ill-fated Palestrina choir, a storm hits and Michael is forced to take refuge and stay the night at Fosse House. Something Luisa is not overly keen on him doing. When he spots a young man lurking on the grounds of the house things begin to take an even stranger turn.
The secondary historical storyline for me is more intriguing than the ghostly presence of the modern storyline. There are various historical threads but it mostly follows a young man’s story of the first world war and his discovery of the beautiful Palestrina choir in a Belgium Convent. His desire to free them from the impending forces heading their way.
This young man’s story and all the connecting weaving threads that Rayne puts in are just phenomenal and actually quite beautiful.
The setting of Fosse House and the remote isolation provides all the dark brooding atmosphere required for any ghost story. Yet, Rayne’s description of the war imprisonment camp for me provided the more intriguing settings and all the goings on there made me really root for the characters involved.
This is just a great story. It’s not all dark and ghostly. It’s not all mysterious and menacing. It’s just a really great, enjoyable, intriguing storyline. With lots of odd-shaped puzzle pieces that fit together very well by the time you reach the end.
For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie.
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This book starts off with high drama, a small baby stumbling from his house where his entire family are murdered into the local graveyard, where he is found by the local ghosts. After a meeting, it is agreed that a married ghostly couple who never had children can adopt him, along with a guardian (who can leave the graveyard). The story then follows Bod and his new graveyard “family & friends” through adolescence with a few bumps along the way, including meeting a girl, attending school and of course finding out what happened to his real family.
This book is so quirky, it had me laughing from the first page even though it was about a baby evading a murderer! Bod is such a happy go lucky little chap too you can’t help but champion him on his journey, even the seemingly little things like learning to read using names on the gravestones and other funny little touches make the story really feel alive. Spoiler-ish alert – the last chapter is a little bit heart-breaking but also perfect.
This is almost like jungle book but instead of a child growing up in the jungle being brought up by the animals, it’s a child growing up in a graveyard being *raised (questionable word) by ghosts! It’s the only story that is similar to this, although I love the darkness of this book.
A really great read that I completely fell in love with from the first page and has long stayed with me since I finished the last! Very sweet and charming tale that I think people young and old will love. Not often I give a book five stars but I had to with this – one not to be missed!
The theme behind this story is fantastic, a ghost who doesn’t realise they are a ghost (completely different from the sixth sense). Although the reader finds out Harriett is a ghost fairly early on the style of the novel keeps maintains this powerful angle throughout the story (and throughout the other characters). I love the mixed storyline the author chose to weave, using Harriett’s memories of her past to keep the story moving.
The variety of characters was intriguing including the extrovert psychic, the religious devout, the traditional house-wife, the floozy mother, the Wall Street father etc. The mix mostly worked giving the story the light and dark contrast it needed to keep the reader involved. However I do feel “the circus” contained a few characters too many as if the author may have added a few of them in as an after-thought to keep the story moving.
My main disappointment was the use of the character Liz. She was the main character at the start of the book, she insisted on buying the house, insists it’s decorated a certain way, she starts her painting career etc. The reader develops an emotional attachment to her but towards the end of the story her involvement is minimal excluding her desire for another baby, even that seems slightly irrelevant to the path of the story. She had felt a form of connection to Harriett from the start and I wish that had been maintained if not improved towards the end of the story.
That being said this was an enjoyable read and a fantastic spin on an old tale. The authors’ ability to blend the timelines was also of a very high standard.