Newest Review: ... with some peace and agrees to go, despite having never previously met her Aunt. Her brother's keenness for the escape, and seemingly overly... more
Superb Work Again By Mosse
Sepulchre - Kate Mosse
Member Name: missrarr
Sepulchre - Kate Mosse
Advantages: Totally engrossing, great writing style, believable characters
Disadvantages: Similar in structure to Labyrinth, not an issue for me personally
I've already elaborated on the author's background in my write up of Labyrinth so I'll move straight on to the book itself. To give some background on Labyrinth, it was a new story about the concept of the Holy Grail told both through the life of a young girl in Crusade-ravaged France and a modern-day woman who finds her own life is linked to the past. Sepulchre follows in a similar vein, although here we move away from the Holy Grail topic and on to a new story.
1891. Sepulchre opens with a brief account of a funeral in Paris. A young woman is being buried before her time, another stands by her grave in mourning.
Further along in time, the young Leonie Vernier becomes caught up in the anti-Wagner riots in Paris before being rescued by her beloved older brother, Anatole. They dine together, while their beautiful mother, Marguerite, does so with her war hero lover elsewhere in the city.
Shortly after, Anatole is mugged. His name already not massively popular in Paris, Leonie worries that there is more to what she is being told, particularly after seeing him in a poor state some months earlier with no explanation.
At the same time, Marguerite receives a letter from the young widow of her half-brother, now the heiress of his estate, inviting her niece and nephew to spend some time with her in the country away from the noise and bustle of Paris. Initially reluctant, Leonie realises that her brother could do with some peace and agrees to go, despite having never previously met her Aunt. Her brother's keenness for the escape, and seemingly overly cautious exit from Paris, raises further suspicions in her that he is not telling her the truth about the mugging, however.
At the Domaine de la Cade, Leonie meets her young Aunt and soon finds herself growing fond both of Isolde and of the estate that she has inherited, an estate from which Leonie's mother has estranged herself at a young age without explanation. Of an inquisitive mind and a lover of dark gothic tales, Leonie also delights in the comprehensive and wide-ranging library left by her late Uncle, and in doing so stumbled across an old mystery that she cannot leave alone.
Back in the modern era, Meredith Martin travels to France to study further for material to include in her work on Debussy, the imminent publication of which has dominated her recent life. Although she does have a pressing personal matter of huge significance, she does not envisage how this trip will become more connected to that than to her research, but as she nears a hotel in the Carcassone region of the country, she starts to pick up the strands of clues to her own past and cannot resist following them further. Spurred by a disturbing and unexpected encounter with a tarot reader and a distinctive set of cards, she also starts to find herself wrapped up in a deeper mystery that reaches back a century previous.
As with Labyrinth, I was hooked.
When I took this book out of the library I also borrowed the similarly history-heavy retelling of a commonly known tale, The Historian. Whilst, unlike that or Labyrinth, Sepulchre is not the telling of something that everyone already knows of, it is in the same style of story telling. It touches not only on history and love, relationships and families bound or torn apart by secrets as Labyrinth, but also on topics of the occult, spiritual resonance and what we modern creatures would call the supernatural.
Straight away Mosse's easy, engrossing reading style is evident. Whilst her protagonists are again two intelligent, inquisitive young females in both stories, as with Labyrinth, her characterisation is well structured. Critics might argue that there are too many similarities in the plot structure as other characters are introduced - and indeed there are - but for me, taking Sepulchre as a different story rather than as a second instalment in a trilogy, I can take this as the story itself is engrossing, fascinating and unfolds in such a well-crafted way that I could barely put it down. Indeed, for one day, as with its predecessor, I could barely rip my eyes away from it for hours. Admittedly, if I were to find a copy of Citadel and find it has the same structure, I might start to feel frustrated, but as things stand I think that the writer has crafted two fabulous tales and as such I can accept those similarities for now.
Again Mosse has executed the switch between eras with expertise - knowing precisely when to swap to the modern era or back to young Leonie at the right time to keep the reader desperate to find out more, and spending exactly enough time on each section of both story to make the reader immersed in that heroine's tale to the extent of almost forgetting why they were so desperate to return to the former's at the initial chapter change.
The stories both develop with believable depth and characterisation, the honesty of the protagonists believable, although the "bad guy" of Leonie's story is far more elaborated upon and thus more enthralling and powerful than the modern day equivalent in Meredith's story. If there is one criticism, that aspect of the modern story is probably the weakest element of the book, but I think that to elaborate strongly on that the book would go from being an epic to being too long and the rhythm of the two stories unfolding would be compromised.
So in conclusion, I loved this. In my opinion, moving from the religious to the supernatural has been a well-executed move from Mosse and I found this to be on a par with Labyrinth if not slightly better - this may be because my interest in religious matters is far less than my open mindedness towards more spiritual, dimensional and supernatural myths and theories and their basis. Again, the historical account feels accurate and well researched, and Mosse also uses without overselling it, a plot technique that I in particular for some reason really like, that of bringing back previous characters in smaller roles in a new work. This, and the geographical location, is the link between these three novels, as opposed to a trilogy in the Tolkein-esque sense.
I completely loved this book. I was absolutely enthralled and ploughed through it. Whilst it is long, and at times I couldn't believe that I had been reading for hours and still had barely passed halfway, but the readable style of prose makes this enjoyable and I would feel frustrated were it any shorter as I enjoyed reading it so much. The heroines from both eras were believable and human, with flaws but strength, and it is easy to feel support and affection for them, particular young Leonie, forced to suddenly break through her state of a girl becoming a young woman on a monumental day in her life that rocks everything she knows to the core.
I hope that I haven't elaborated too much in setting the scene for anyone who might read this, but I assure you what I have noted down is just the start - this book has far, far more to offer, and I hope that if you decide to read it then you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Currently on Amazon in paperback for just over £5, also available in Kindle form. 784 pages, printed by Orion.
Summary: A book I will definitely read again and again