Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

My TBR pile has been taking a beating lately and I couldn't be more pleased! Some of these titles have been staring at me for years. The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse for example. It's a small, short book, more of a novella, really. But look how atmospheric the description on the back sounds:

It's 1928. Freddie Watson is still grieving for his brother, lost in the Great War. Driving through the foothills of the French Pyrenees, his car spins off the road in a snowstorm. Freddie takes refuge in an isolated village and there meets a beautiful, captivating woman. They spend the night talking of love and loss and war. But by daybreak, Fabrissa has vanished and Freddie realizes he holds the key to an ancient mystery that leads him deep into the mountains, to a cave that has concealed an appalling secret for 700 years. (back cover)

Cool, yes? I was never really sure, though, if I would like this author enough to give her another try, as I had abandoned her earlier book Labyrinth a few years ago. But with the cold and dark weather we've been having around here I figured the conditions were right to take this book off the shelf and go from there. It was, happily, surprisingly, good. Well, not 'happily' I guess, as it is a rather sad story, but it was wonderfully atmospheric in a way I was exactly in the mood for. It even takes place at a time in history I'm quite interested in, and has a decently satisfying conclusion.

There is a downside, though, and this might be very nit-picky of me as it is one of my pet literary peeves, but her prolific use of metaphors and similes gets on my nerves. Authors who feel the need to describe candlelight as 'dancing' tend to get blacklisted pretty quickly in my books. She uses 'dancing' a number of times to describe snowflakes and dust motes, too. And then there are several references to Fabrissa's 'clever grey eyes'. I don't know. The word 'clever' in reference to eyes seems a bit overwrought. It all reminded me of why I DNFed Labyrinth, a much longer and more involved book; there are only so many contrived descriptions I can tolerate. Poetry is one thing, but a novel is better served by writing that is tight and concise.

So. If you can get past the various poetic flourishes, The Winter Ghosts is a good, fast-paced, cold weather read.


HeidiInHolland said...

I have this on my shelves too. I cannot wait to start it but unfortunately there are so many that fall into that category. *sigh*

I did like Labyrinth but that is perhaps because I have been to all the places they mentioned in the book. It made it all easy to literally picture in my mind's eye.

Hugs from Holland ~

Trish said...

Heidi - My shelves are full of Must Read books too. It makes it very hard to choose, doesn't it? Even though I didn't get into Labyrinth I still have the next one Sepulchre on my shelf - hopefully that one will be as good as WInter Ghosts. I'd love to see those areas that she writes about. It sounds fantastic! Although I have a passing familiarity with some of the landmarks and terrain from my childhood, it's been too long to really know them anymore.