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Kate Mosse – The Winter Ghosts

February 14, 2011

LibraryThing Early Reviewers16. 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.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: BiblioHistoria, Book Gazing, Curious Book Fans, Killin’ Time Reading, Scribbles
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: He walked like a man recently returned to the world.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2011 2:36 pm

    My sister read this and loved it, but she is a fan of Mosse’s earlier work.

    • February 17, 2011 9:30 am

      bermudaonion – I think I would have loved it more if they’d billed it as a novella rather than a novel proper.

  2. February 14, 2011 6:45 pm

    Simple is a good way to put Mosse’s stories; while I really enjoyed the historical plot in Labyrinth, the modern plot was just too predictable.

    • February 17, 2011 9:31 am

      Omni – In retrospect, it really was, although I don’t remember minding so much, maybe because I was too happy with the overlapping historical/modern plot structure?

  3. February 15, 2011 1:35 am

    I have never read any Kate Mosse books although I have been intrigued by the titles – Labyrinth, Sepulchre! This book does sound rather boring and predictable though

    • February 17, 2011 9:32 am

      Nishita – They are great titles, and she does write about a bit of history that I haven’t seen addressed much elsewhere.

  4. February 15, 2011 1:39 pm

    I own two of her books, so I should probably read them before getting around to this one. It does sound interesting, though… Down the road maybe. The only reason I own her period is because of thrift store finds…

    • February 17, 2011 9:33 am

      Kailana – I think the reason I picked up Labyrinth at the library originally was 100% due to the pretty cover/spine. :)

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