143 of 159 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
I like thrillers, crime, historical novels and books with feisty female leads. From the first newspaper articles and reviews I've been waiting for this book to come out in paperback and was looking forward to wallowing in a great read. Unfortunately it wasn't.
The historical stuff was mostly good. Carcassone zinged to life and I want to go and visit. But I got so annoyed at the constant used of Occitan words followed by the translation. So you've got an Occitan dictionary Kate? Big deal. Ever heard the phrase "your research is showing"? So many times someone said "Ben", and we were given the translation "good". Once is enough: it's not that difficult to guess anyway!
Modern-day stuff was awful. Really poorly written, with poorly-delineated unexplained characters rushing all over the place. No thrills at all. I started counting the number of chapters that ended with someone being whacked over the head and "that was the last thing he heard before darkness overwhelmed him.." I would guess that this book was written and edited in a tearing hurry to capitalise on the Da Vinci effect, but it does Kate Mosse (who always seems very intelligent on Radio 4) no favours at all.
And as for the ending. What was that all about? Can anyone explain to me what happened? What was the secret of the grail? What was the secret of the books and the parchment? What did it all mean? Who had captured whom? Who was working for whom? It just felt like a random bunch of people in a cave, some of them wearing robes, some of them with guns (and I'm not giving anything away here). Very flat indeed.
And as for the love interest between Alice and - whatever his name was... well, there was none.
For me the worst flaw was the way Alice dealt with the would-be scary flashbacks she kept having. There was no big, emotional revelation of "oh my God, I have been here before" - which to me negated the whole central thrust of the book.
If this book had stuck to 13th century Carcassone it could have been a real cracker. That's why I'm giving it two stars because it did keep me reading. But I'm astonished that such a pedestrian book can be so well-reviewed. Dare I suggest it's because Kate Mosse founded the Orange Literary Prize and is generally seen as a "good egg" in literary circles?