The Burning Chambers Hardcover – 3 May 2018
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'A moving, immersive and nuanced portrait of a tight-knit social world, its people and its values.'
Learn more about The Booker Prize 2020
- Hardcover : 608 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1509806830
- Dimensions : 16.3 x 4.8 x 24.1 cm
- ISBN-13 : 978-1509806836
- Publisher : Mantle; Main Market edition (3 May 2018)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: 66,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
Another of Mosse's immersive dramas, which takes you to the heart of the past -- Book of the Week ― Grazia
Mosse does what good popular historical novelists do best - make the past enticingly otherworldly, while also claiming it as our own ― Independent
Mosse's narrative lyricism, beautifully drawn female characters and deft journey from the past to the present day are a cut above ― Scotland on Sunday
A powerful storyteller with an abundant imagination ― Daily Telegraph
Rich with historical detail, as you'd expect from Mosse, but it's Minou, the fiery heroine, who makes this a must-read -- Book of the Month ― Good Housekeeping
An irresistible read ― Prima
Impressively bold and ambitious, it features betrayals, broken friendship, family secrets and the horrors of fanaticism. Fans will love it ― Daily Mail
A tour de force ― Observer
About the Author
Kate Mosse is an award-winning novelist, playwright and non-fiction writer, the author of six novels and short story collections, including the multimillion-selling Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and number one bestselling Gothic fiction The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist’s Daughter. Her books have been translated into thirty-seven languages and published in more than forty countries. The Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, she is also the Deputy Chair of the National Theatre in London.
Kate divides her time between Chichester in West Sussex and Carcassonne in south-west France.
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I really enjoyed Kate Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy so I was excited when I heard she was due to publish another trilogy also set in the beautiful medieval city of Carcassonne. Sadly, The Burning Chambers did not quite live up to my expectations. I expected the same ingredients I found in the Languedoc trilogy: drama, intrigue, treachery and romance. There is early promise on delivering these elements but the pace was slow and the drama felt a little forced, as did the romance. Minou and Piet’s relationship unfolds rapidly with little substance behind it. Furthermore, the religious conversion of one of the characters felt convenient rather than sincere. It was simply a plot device used to engineer drama. In addition, Vidal/Valentin the novel’s main antagonist was more pantomime villain than a dark and sinister villain.
Perhaps I am being a little harsh….the novel is set during an incredibly interesting period of French history and as it is just book number one of three, there is certainly room for improvement. With that in mind, I would definitely consider reading The City of Tears when it is published, as I am somewhat intrigued to see the direction Mosse takes this story.
Tedious, boring and difficult to get into the story. It just didn't flow for me and the ending was rather predictable.
Shame because I loved Labyrinth but this does not have a gripping unputdownable storyline.
However, when Amazon offered me a cheapie Kindle version of her new series “The Burning Chambers”, I thought, “why not?” Better to have an opinion based on having read something than assume you won’t like it. I carefully read all the preamble (when authors list characters, best you take care & read them to avoid later confusion) and the historical blurb. Ken Follett lists his characters, and by golly, he needs to – Ms Mosse’s cast list was minute compared to his. I noted it was about Huguenots & the ensuing French Civil war in the 16th Century and based around Carcassonne, where the author has a house. So off I went, starting for no apparent reason in South Africa in the 1860’s where a random un-named woman is attacked, seemingly for some family papers, whilst reading gravestones in a Huguenot graveyard. She is left for dead. We hear absolutely nothing more about her, but I deduced an early warning “unique family characteristic” had been flagged up (tall) and that the papers would feature later.
Once I started reading, I kept thinking, “but I’ve read something like this fairly recently” – it was indeed Ken Follett’s “Column of Fire”, the third of his Kingsbridge trilogy (I astonished myself by rather enjoying the first one about the Cathedral, after which it all went a bit downhill). Amidst the cast of thousands is, yes, a Huguenot bookseller and his feisty daughter. Never mind, I kept going with this one until I came across the first paragraph of intensely cliched banality. Whoa, I thought, this woman was meant to be good! Did I see her describe her work as “chick-lit with A levels?” All I can say is if I had employed the lazy similes I kept coming across in this book in my A-level essays, my English teacher would have beaten me round the head with them. Suffice it to say that all scars are livid, the sky is always forget-me-not blue (indeed every description of blue things uses the forget-me-not as comparison; there might have been one “cerulean”, but forget-me-not was the blue colour of choice. The hero’s red hair is “the colour of a fox’s brush” and the frost always tips the grass with silver. Of course, once on cliché alert, you spot them all the time – it becomes a sort of hobby. And I was not let down. Then, the crowning moment – the “unique family characteristic” was revealed – different coloured eyes for our heroine. Oh no, I moaned to myself, not that one, that’s right up there with the silver streak in the black hair. Two pages on and the baddie priest revealed – yes – a silver streak in his black hair. At this point I nearly lost the will to live, but staggered on through the ever increasing body count.
If you are going to employ cliched similes, at least space them out a bit. Baddie Blanche had hair (inevitably) “as black as a raven’s wing”. (Oh, and eyebrows liked arched crescents) – a page or two later on, the child Alis also had hair as black as, etc. It was long, convoluted and only the cliché spotting kept me going. The plot pointers were so obvious, that you’d have to be very dense not to work out where it was going. It was a bit more challenging working out who’d make it to the end of the book.
It ended reasonably happily, with a certain amount of ends tied up, but ominously, as our heroine was serene in the knowledge that tomorrow was another (lovely) day, it was nearing the eve of the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre, and naturally a number of her nearest and dearest were going up to Paris for the festival. If I hadn’t pushed on and read the introduction to the next novel in the series, the opening pages/chapter would have been utterly pointless. I don’t think I’ll be going there. I know this all sounds really sneery, but I was expecting it to be much better. I can’t see a man reading it, targeting a female audience as it does. Frankly, it’s Ken Follett with less sex and more clichés.