5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2014
"The Mistletoe Bride and other haunting tales" is a fantastic atmospheric collection of 14 short stories and 1 short play. Usually I am not a fan of short story collections but this was certainly not the case with this book.
Some of the stories have previously been published and others are totally new to this collection. Each story is superbly crafted making sure that the reader is made to feel shivers down their spine when they read each story. To me these stories were not simple ghost stories but were also very reminiscent of Roald Dahl's "Tales of the Unexpected". A nice touch was the fact that Kate Mosse adds a note to the end of each story giving some background on how she was inspired to write the story. I found these notes very interesting and informative.
My personal favourites in the collection were:
The Mistletoe Bride
A haunting tale of the mysterious disappearance of a new bride on her wedding day during a game of hide and seek.
The Princess Alice
A young woman living in the heart of 21st Century hears a crying child in her flat and cannot find an explanation as to why she is hearing this noise. A chance purchase in a second bookshop resolves the mystery.
On Harting Hill
Lost in fog a driver hits a girl. What is a young girl doing out in such bad weather? This story gave me shivers and I just hope that I never have to drive in the country in bad fog.
Returning home to look after her sick father, the past comes back to back to haunt the narrator of this story. Set on the Fishbourne Marshes in Sussex, this is a wonderfully atmospheric story which is not only gave me goose bumps but had a very good twist at the end of the story.
I read this book quickly as the stories were so readable. A must read for all those who like stories that are slightly spooky and a bit different
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Historical fiction is not my favourite genre, and I will admit that Kate Mosse's novel Labyrinth sat upon my bookshelf for well over 18 months before I actually read it. I wanted to read it, I had heard great reviews of it, but it frightened me just a little bit. It's a huge book - enormous in fact, and it's also very very historical. I remember taking the plunge and getting stuck into the story, I loved it - every single page of it. I went on to read the next two in the Languedoc series; Sepulchre and Citadel, and enjoyed those two even more.
I guess that Kate Mosse has now become well-know for producing long and quite complex novels, so I was really intrigued to find that she had written a collection of short stories. The Mistletoe Bride & other Haunting Tales will be published by Orion Books on 24 October 2013 - just in time for Halloween, and very appropriate too, these are real ghost stories - the kind that send a shiver down the spine.
I do enjoy short stories, but sometimes I feel that they can lack a little something. The story can often feel rushed, or not quite finished off and I did wonder how Kate Mosse would tackle this collection as she usually produces novels with very intricate plot lines and a huge cast of characters.
The Mistletoe Bride & other Haunting Tales is a collection of fourteen stories and one play, and Mosse has taken her inspiration from the legends of folklore of both France and England. Most of the stories are set either in the southern counties of England or in the familiar setting of Languedoc, France. Each story has it's own particular style, some are based on the good old-fashioned traditional ghost story, whilst others are more magical, mellow and quite tender.
My favourite of the collection is the first story, the one that gives the collection it's name; The Mistletoe Bride. It's one of the shortest stories in the book at just over 30 pages long, but it is just perfect and sets the pace for the rest of the collection. The Mistletoe Bride of the title is an unnamed young woman who the reader knows intimately by the end of her story, she will haunt you with her despair and her passion. She is a character who deserves a whole novel just to herself and was the perfect introduction to this really superb selection of stories.
The reader meets a host of troubled characters, each one very different, but each one with their own personal crisis.
I savoured these stories. They are so well crafted, as is to be expected from such a successful author, yet they lose nothing at all by being so short. Of course, as in most collections of short stories, there were a couple that I did not enjoy quite as much as others, but as a complete collection, they are a joy to read.
Kate Mosse has included a short 'author note' at the end of each of the stories, I found some of these just as interesting as the actual tales themselves. They really help the reader to get a more in-depth feeling about the background of the story, and are a very welcome addition.
I don't think Kate Mosse fans will be disappointed by this collection at all and I'd urge anyone who has not read any of her full-length novels to start with The Mistletoe Bride to get a taste of her writing style.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
THE MISTLETOE BRIDE AND OTHER HAUNTING TALES is a fantastic collection of short stories by Kate Mosse. As her introduction states, some of the tales have been printed elsewhere previously, and at the end of each tale she provides an insight into her inspiration for the tales. She also tracks how these short tales show how she would later develop into the writer of books such as LABYRINTH. Now, before going further, perhaps a word of caution; if you come to THE MISTLETOE BRIDE expecting and hoping for horror tales with obvious chills, you will be disappointed. The tales here are haunting but they are not overly scary. They don't need to be. A tale which haunts the reader stays with them long after they have finished its pages, swirling around in your mind, pushing at your imagination.
As with all collections of short stories, there are some which I preferred to others. My personal favourites were "The Mistletoe Bride", "The Drowned Village", "On Harting Hill" and "The Ship of the Dead". However, all tales have something different to offer and something pleasing to find within them.
I would strongly recommend this book to others.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2013
I adored the Languedoc trilogy but didn't like The Winter Ghosts at all.
I bought this with some hesitation, worried that I wouldn't really like it if it was on a par with Winter Ghosts; I'm sad to say is just wasn't for me at all. It starts off well with The Mistletoe Bride, The House on the Hill, Red Letter Day and The Drowned Village but when I started Why the Yew Tree Lives So Long I became a little tedious for me and I felt it was a chore reading the other stories, rather than an enjoyment.
I limped to the finishing post somewhat reluctantly as I thought it might improve but, to my regret, it didn't.
I thought the whole thing very strange indeed and there was a definite lack of haunting to any of the stories.
If you enjoyed Winter Ghosts then this is for you, if not avoid it.
Sorry Kate, I did try and like it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2014
The Mistletoe Bride is a book of short stories which I largely enjoyed. The stories are far from all being the same quality however, which is why if I could I would award 3.5 stars for that. Because overall, I am left with the effect of having enjoyed the book more than the sum of its parts, I have given 4 stars. Some of the writing is excellent and I love the stories that give a wonderful sense of time and place. Mosse is skilled at this. You are supposed to write about what you know, and when Mosse is writing about landscape she knows well, or about places she is fascinated by and has a lot of knowledge about, it really shows and allows her best writing to shine.
The weaker stories in my view are those written for a particular audience (often starting off as stories for women's magazines). Another weakness seems to be contemporary stories, with female protagonists. I found some of the writing in these stories weak and they made me cringe at the lack of characterisation and tediously dull middle class women characters. I preferred the more rugged environments and harsher aspects she covered in different stories and which were often beautifully evoked.
The stories I did not like were Duet, which did not work for me on any level, especially after reading the authors note of what she was trying to achieve. (Incidently I would have hoped to have gained more insight from the author's note included at the end of each story. I found them strangely cool and uninvolving or informing). I thought that La Fille de Melisande was muddled and with little depth, yet potentially could have been so much better. I did not like The Ghost of Christmas Past which I found trite, sentimental and would have been at home in People's Friend rather than the magazine it did appear in. It was dull. The play, was awful. I couldn't bear the tedium of the lack-lustre story as it unfolded. So clichéd and so dull and it unfolded as if written by numbers.
I liked The Mistletoe Bride which was the first story quite a lot, but I much preferred The Yellow Scarf based on the same old tale. I loved the sense of time and evocation of another place both evoked. The Yellow Scarf I really enjoyed as there was genuine tension and atmosphere and a sense of history. My favourites were The drowned village, The Ship of the Dead and The Revenant. I also liked Red Letter Day. These were genuinely eerie, they transported me to a different time and place and the sense of otherness came through loud and strong. I loved the descriptions which set the atmosphere and times so beautifully. In these stories were glimpses of the literary writing Mosse is apparently capable of. I wish she was more consistent. I can imagine re-reading these stories. I found them very enjoyable and would like to read others. For me they were pitched perfectly. I don't like crime or horror and sometimes there were elements of both in the stories, but it was well controlled. No gratuitous descriptions of violence or horror but well written hints of them.
Other stories I liked were Princess Alice, On Harting Hill, The House on the Hill and St Therese. The others were all acceptable too, with varying degrees of success. A couple did perhaps seem like fillers.
I have read two of Kate Mosse's books previously. I enjoyed Labyrinth quite a lot but did not like Sepulchre much at all. I had given up on the author. As I rather liked this book I will try others. I think I am most drawn to The Taxidermist's Daughter after reading the prologue from it which is included at the end of The Mistletoe Bride. It strikes me as similar in tone to the stories I have enjoyed in this collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2014
This is the best collection of short stories that I have read in a very long time. All of the tales have a slightly ghostly or supernatural theme to them. Some include a mere hint which may be explained away while others are full ghost stories.
A large number of stories in this book left me wanting to know more - what led up to the events which unfolded and what happened afterwards. As they were short stories, however, I was left to my own imagination. The title story, for example, tells of a Tudor bride who disappears on her wedding day.We get just a glimpse of the events leading up to annd after the disappearance but I wanted to know more about the search and the ripples that her disappearance caused. Of course, leaving the reader wanting more is exactly what a short story should do!
All of the stories in the book are clearly titled and include the place and date of the events. I was pleased about this as it saves the reader a lot of time and effort in placing these in time and place. After each story the author has included a brief explanation as to why she wrote the story. Some are based on folk legends, including the Mistletoe Bride. Some of the stories are extrapolations of her own experiences and some were written for a specific event or publication.
These may be short stories but Kate Mosse has not excluded any of the attention to detail found in her novels. In a few brief paragraphs she gives enough information for the reader to be able to envisage the scene described. This was also helped by giving the date and place of the story.
An excellent collection which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you enjoyed these why not progress onto her longer ghost story "The Winter Ghosts".
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2013
Writing short stories is a somewhat different art to writing novels, so I was intrigued to see how the author of the bestselling Languedoc trilogy would handle the shorter form. These tales were written over several years (some published, some not), but all have been edited for this anthology. As the title suggests, the underlying theme is that of the ghost story, perfect for dark autumn nights with the log fire ablaze!
For me, the memorable stories are:
Red Letter Day: An atmospheric story traced by the ghostly whispers of the Cathars, and one which highlights the author's love of the Languedoc region of France.
The Drowned Village: A Breton-inspired tale of water and fire and legend, and one which I raced through as the story progressed.
The House on the Hill: Set in Sussex in the 1920s, a clever and spine-tingling story of love, loss and forgiveness. This is my favourite of all the tales.
The Ship of the Dead: A masterful tale of a Finistere fishing village and the Ankou, a story which relentlessly carries the reader forward in its quiet horror.
The Revenant: This is a darkly wonderful tale of the mists and the marshes and debts to be paid by the living.
The Yellow Scarf: This timeslip tale, rich in detail and history, gave me chills; not because it was spooky, but because of the way it resolved.
Many of these tales remind me of Daphne du Maurier's work, which is certainly no bad thing in my view!
Nearly a 5-star read for me.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2014
I don't usually go for books full of short stories, but I was interested in what spin Kate Mosse would put on the Mistletoe Bride story (as several houses in England and further afield claim to have the original chest and be the setting for the story). Apart from that story they were a mixed bag - some good, some not so good. I particularly found the last one difficult to read, as it was a play and written in dialogue.
Not my favourite book by Miss Mosse but glad I read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2014
Great if you like short stories, as these are the perfect length for a bit of reading before bedtime. I love Labyrinth and Sepulchre; in fact everything Kate Mosse has written previously, but you don't need to be familiar with her work to enjoy this. The writing style is so different from her novels that I'd never have guessed she was the author had I not known.
The only downside is that, if you're a fan of horror, you might be disappointed. These stories are not really scary at all. In fact they're so tame I leant the book to my wimp of a mother, who still (at the age of 59) sleeps with the landing light on and won't have her window open in summer for fear of vampire bats flying in!
If you like to be mildly creeped out rather than outright scared, this is the book for you though. The stories are all are very well written and worth it for the price of the book too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2015
I thought The Mistletoe Bride and other Haunting Tales was a great collection of stories. Every story was strong and I enjoyed all of them. I found a few of the stories really stood out as something a bit special. The title story, The Mistletoe Bride was very sad and I loved the fact it was narrated by a ghost. I thought The Drowned Village was very creepy and unsettling. The Ship of the Dead, The Revenant and The Princess Alice were all remarkable stories. The Yellow Scarf is based on the same legend as The Mistletoe Bride and I loved how different the stories are. The other stories were very good.
I loved the fact Kate Mosse includes an author’s note after each story that explains how the story came about, the sources of inspiration and if the story was published elsewhere. As a writer myself, I love to know how other writers work.