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Kate Mosse – Labyrinth

September 21, 2007

96. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (2005)

Read by Donada Peters
Length: 19h 29m (528 pages)

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Started: 08 September 2007
Finished: 21 September 2007

Summary: The story opens with Alice Tanner, a volunteer on an archaeological dig in France, stumbling across a mysterious grave chamber high in the Pyrenees. She finds two bodies, and a stone ring with a carving of a labyrinth. However, when the ring disappears and Alice begins to be threatened, she must race to uncover the truth about the cave and the labyrinth. Told in alternating sections is the story of Alaïs, a young woman living in the middle ages. When she finds the body of a man wearing the labyrinth ring in the river, she learns from her father of a secret society, dedicated to protect at all costs its ancient secrets from those who would denounce them as heresy or use them for their own ends.

Review: This was an enjoyable read, if not a particularly satisfying story. The actual experience of reading (listening) was very engrossing, and the story was interesting and was told well, but ultimately just not satisfying enough to bear its own weight. I was particularly frustrated by the repeated use of scene breaks right when a character is about to explain something – there’s a lot of “X looked out over the mountains and began to speak”-type constructions used as chapter ends. Maybe that’s just a convention of the mystery/thriller genre, but I feel like I’ve read mysteries where the reader gets the information at the same pace as the narrator without giving everything away. Perhaps that was all for the best in this case, because as soon as anyone actually started explaining things in this book, I figured out exactly what was going on, and it was all kind of obvious and trite, without being particularly well thought-out. I did enjoy this historical fiction aspect of the story, I thought the writing was very evocative and quite good in parts (although not in the horrible contrived epilogue), and it got me to look up some history I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. So, all of that, plus the fact that I actually did enjoy the experience of reading this book, means I can’t rate it too badly, even if the mystery aspect of it was not handled as well as it could have been. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: There are better examples out there of pretty much everything this book tries to do, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an enjoyable and relatively non-trashy beach or airplane read.

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