Kate Mosse – The Winter Ghosts
16. The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse (2011)
Length: 266 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Ghost Story
Started: 31 January 2011
Finished: 1 February 2011
Where did it come from? LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers.
Why do I have it? I enjoyed Mosse’s Labyrinth, and thought the summary of this one looked interesting.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 14 January 2011.
Two tragic tales of
loss come together on
one snowy French night.
Summary: Frederick is a young Englishman, still grieving over the loss of his older brother in World War One ten years previously. One night, while he is travelling alone and aimlessly in France, he gets caught in a blizzard in the Pyrenees and crashes his car. Injured and disoriented, he stumbles through the forest to the small village of Nulle. He is taken in at the local inn, and at a festival that evening, meets the hauntingly beautiful Fabrissa. She encourages him to talk about his brother, and by the time morning comes, they have each shared their tales of tragedy and sorrow. But when Frederick wakes the next day, no one in town has ever heard of Fabrissa, and he finds himself caught up in a mystery that spans centuries.
Review: This would have been an excellent short story, or a wonderful novella. As a full-blown novel, however, it’s pretty thin on the plot. It doesn’t help that the plot is predictable as hell to anyone who has ever read a ghost story (or Ray Bradbury’s “The Night Meeting”) before; I more-or-less knew what was going on in Nulle practically before Freddie even enters the town. However, even though it’s a theme that has been done many, many times before, Mosse renders the details of her version exquisitely well. She conjures the atmosphere of the quiet French mountain town with ease, and slips in a number of story and character elements that are poignant and haunting by turns.
This was a much faster read than the page count might suggest; at least in the ARC version, the margins and the font were both huge. In order for it to be satisfying as a novel, it needed some additional complexity of plot, character, or storyline. However, I do admire the elegance of a simple story told well, and I think that this book might be better served by paring it down to a shorter length, and not trying to pass it off as something more than it is. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Fans of Mosse’s earlier books will enjoy this one as well, as will those who are interested in a good ghost story with a bit of a historical and romantic twist.
First Line: He walked like a man recently returned to the world.
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