Book review – The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is not an author I am familiar with – I had heard of her but kind of assumed her books wouldn’t be my thing. Then a colleague of mine told me her books were amazing – and not long after I spotted this in my local library. So I decided to give it a whirl.

ghostThe book is set in the south of France in the 1920s and follows Frederick as he travels around the region trying to get over the grief and guilt he feels following the death of his beloved older brother George in the war 10 years ago.

Then his car is involved in an accident and he finds himself in the small town of Nulle. He goes to stay in a deserted guest house and soon finds himself at the local celebratory fete, where he meets Fabrissa. We hear her story, which leads George to unearth some of the town’s secrets…

This is a really unusual story, but it is told in a very straightforward way and I read it in just a short time. Told mainly in the first person by Freddie (but with an opening and closing chapter told in the third person), we learn a lot about Freddie, his grief, and the uncomfortable relationship he has had with his family. Fabrissa also has a sad story to tell and this is where the story gets more mysterious.

I did enjoy this book and I liked the easy pace of it. It wasn’t hugely gripping, I didn’t feel, but it moved along in an interesting and readable way. It leaves questions unanswered at the end – but this is the nature of the book – and I imagine different readers will interpret it in different ways.

This was adapted from a short story that Mosse had previously written, and it did feel like a ‘long’ short story in many ways, and the ending loses some of the drama as it is told very quickly and without the twists that you may expect.

But overall this was an easy and undemanding read – not my usual kind of thing but pleasant enough!

My rating: 7/10

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14 comments

  1. I’ve seen this in bookshops and rather fancied it, although I’ll wait until it’s out in paperback. I read her book Labyrinth – a huge book, with a time split narrative between an archaeologist in present day France, and a girl in the same area in roughly the 12th C. It was very good (and made me want to move to Carcassonne immediately!)

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  2. I loved this book! I loved that it was compact and a bit eery and just so unusual — and the woodcuts prints just added to the overall feel. i’ve never read anything else by this author either, although I did pick up a copy of Labyrinth at a library sale last year.

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      • If I still had mine I’d happily send you it, but I think it must have gone to Mary’s Meals (the charity shop I take my books – then buy more when I’m in! Going to have to start sending Mr Crimeworm over with them!)

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      • Ha ha! Now there’s a new excuse to give Mr Crimeworm when he moans next time I buy some! I got the Andrew Marr book, Head Of State, for £1 in hardback three weeks after it came out – even he had to admit that was a real snip! I found when I helped out in Oxfam you get loads of the same book in at the same time in (back then it was copies of The Time Traveller’s Wife; at the moment it’s probably Gone Girl!) Working there was a REALLY expensive charitable deed!

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      • Ha ha! Yes, of course there’ll be lots of them! I borrowed a copy from a friend but have yet to find time I want to waste reading it! I’ve SO many books in my TBR and I think, figuratively, it’s right at the bottom!

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