Book Review: The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

The Burning ChambersAbout the Book

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

Format: ebook, hardcover (608 pp.)    Publisher: Mantle Books
Published: 3rd May 2018                        Genre: Historical Fiction

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My Review

CarcassonneI absolutely loved Kate Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy (Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel) and the atmospheric The Winter Ghosts.  The author returns to the setting of previous novels – Carcassonne – but this time without the dual time structure of Labyrinth and Sepulchre. Instead the reader is plunged into the sights and sounds of 16th century France, a time of religious strife between the Catholic Church and Protestant Huguenots.  ‘The threat of being denounced terrified everyone; a man could be strung up for uttering the wrong prayer, kneeling at the wrong altar.’  However, as one character observes, “A war of faith is always about more than faith.”  In this case, for some, it’s about power and influence.

The Burning Chambers contains all the elements a reader has come to love and expect from a Kate Mosse novel: strong female characters, secrets passed down through generations, an inheritance, a forgery, a Will, a labyrinthine but totally absorbing plot.  There is love, passion and betrayal.  There is murder, treachery and brutal interrogation.  And, when it comes down to it, who can be trusted, even amongst those you believe your closest friends?

The story lines involving Minou and Piet are interspersed with extracts from the testimony of an unnamed woman who reveals herself as something of a Lady Macbeth character, prepared to stop at nothing to achieve her aims.   Eventually, the various story lines and leading characters converge on the place that holds the key to one element of the mystery before building to a dramatic climax. However, ‘old crimes cast long shadows…’ so this is a feud that could continue down the generations.

If you gave Mary Berry flour, butter, eggs and sugar, you could be absolutely sure she’d create the perfect Victoria sponge cake.  In the same way, in The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse expertly combines all the ingredients necessary for a deliciously satisfying historical fiction novel…with the Prologue providing the promise of further appetising slices still to come.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Mantle Books, and NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Intense, sweeping, entertaining

Try something similar…Sacrilege by S. J Parris

Kate MosseAbout the Author

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), and Citadel (2012), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate’s new novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is out now.

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex.

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