Thursday, May 3, 2018

Book review of The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

French Village Diaries book review The Burning Chambers Kate Mosse
The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

My review today is for the new release from Kate Mosse, The Burning Chambers, that is now available in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats.

Synopsis provided by the author
The Burning Chambers is the first in a sequence of historical novels set against the backdrop of the French Wars of Religion in the 16th and 17th centuries. A Romeo & Juliet story, it tells the story of a Catholic girl, Minou, her Huguenot lover, Piet, and a feud between two families stretching over three hundred years. Betrayal and intrigue, a missing will and a stolen relic, it is a diaspora story and the action ranges from Languedoc and Paris in the 16th century, to London and Amsterdam in the 17th and 18th centuries, and finally to the New World and the Cape in the 19th. The series begins and ends in the small town of Franschhoek in 1862, where several Huguenot families had fled persecution to begin a new life, discover that old sins have long shadows. I’m having a wonderful time researching and writing the novels, so I hope readers will take Minou and Piet to their hearts.

My review
I have to start my review by saying that Kate is a brilliant storyteller and although her books may look rather daunting as they are so big, don’t be afraid. I found that once I’d slipped inside the pages, time stood still, the magic of her storytelling took hold and I loved the fact we followed seemingly unrelated stories of different characters in different places, and then bit by bit the relationships and links between them all became apparent. A Kate Mosse book is a very satisfying experience and this one was no exception.

I become quite attached to Minou and Piet and the struggles they faced in a difficult time. They were from different sides of an unnecessary war, but both were honest, strong-willed and judged others on their actions, not beliefs. Following a chance meeting in Carcassonne, they then find themselves in Toulouse, just as tensions between the Catholics and the Huguenots are rising to burning point. It was a time when you no longer knew who could be trusted and as the action took hold I was often on the edge of my seat.

The siege of Toulouse was very moving and in places was difficult to read; the barricades, the bodies, the blood, the people we have come to know slip away, then reappear, and I was always wondering if they would make it to safety. There were times I had to take a deep breath, pull up my big girl pants and keep reading; when half of me wanted to turn and run, the other half was so gripped by the action that I couldn’t have run if I’d tried.

It never fails to amaze and sadden me, the atrocities some are able to do to their fellow men, in the name of religion. The characters in this book feel little was learned from the Cathar murders some three hundred years before the Huguenot troubles in 1562. Some five hundred years later man is still at war with man, in the name of God. We have learned nothing.

Once I’d started The Burning Chambers, I couldn’t put it down and I just know readers are going to love it as much as The Languedoc Trilogy. The scene has been set for part two and I can’t wait for this journey to unfold through the centuries.

If you enjoyed Kate’s previous trilogy, or are an historical fiction fan, I am sure you will love her latest novel.

The Burning Chambers is out now in ebook, hardback and audio book and links to Amazon can be found below.

In case you missed my France et Moi interview with Kate, you can read it here and you can find Kate at her website here and follow her on social media here – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.