Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
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.