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Great Collection of Short Stories
on 1 November 2013
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.