The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse @katemosse @MantleBooks

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The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse  Mantle Books May 3rd 2018

Bringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties . . .

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

My review

Kate Mosse is hugely influential in the publishing world, largely due to to founding the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She is also a hugely successful novelist.

Mosse’s novel Labyrinth was a phenomenal success followed by Sepulchre and Citadel. The Burning Chambers takes us back to Carcassonne and Toulouse and the French middle ages.

The year is 1562, the Catholic ruling King of France is waging war against the protestant Huguenots. In Carcassonne, live the Joubert family. Bernard, the Father, Minou the eldest daughter, Aimeris her brother and little sister Alis, Madame Joubert dead five years ago.

All seemed well until Bernard returned from his travels and now refuses to leave the house, forcing Minou to take charge of his small bookshop. Life  is about to get more complicated when a letter, with the word ‘SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE’ is delivered to the bookshop. Just what do the words mean, who is the she?

Elsewhere trouble is brewing, there is danger in every corner, and not all can be trusted as Piet Reydon, Huguenot rebel, is finding to his cost. A chance meeting with old friend Vidal, a high ranking Catholic clergyman and the question of the lost shroud of Antiroch leave Piet fleeing Carcassonne for Toulouse but not before a fleeting encounter with Minou. Their lives will become inextricably linked when they find themselves trapped in the city when ferocious fighting breaks out between the Catholics and the Huguenots.

In the small village of Puivert, a long hidden document threatens the status of its Mistress, Blanche de Bruyere who will stop at nothing to protect herself.

If your reading this and thinking this all sounds too much, then suspend that thought. Yes, there are several strands to the novel and yes it all sounds a bit complicated don’t be put off because this novel has everything.

Lets start with how wonderful the characters are.

We have our dashing hero Piet Reydon, desperate to liberate France from the tyranny of the Catholics, to let every man chose how and what religion they wish to follow. He is brave and courageous not afraid to face those who would see him dead.

Minou is our heroine, a young naive woman forced to grow up, to face upto her past and fight for her family. She is tenacious and driven, hugley strong in the face of great adversity.

We have two wonderful villains in Vidal and Blanche De Bruyere. Vidal intent on gaining power and authority in the French Catholic church stopping at nothing to get what he wants. He has a great partner in Blanche, obsessed with finding Minou and safeguarding her status to the point of insanity.

There are numerous other characters who play their part and enhance the whole novel, some adding a lighter touch in what can be quite a dark novel.

The historical detail is just brilliant. Mosse has obviously done her research but does not swamp the reader in too much detail. There is just enough information for you to understand the complexities of the conflict and how the characters represent each side.

The imagery is amazing and I particular loved the scenes towards the end which were so vivid and real I felt I could have been there.

The novel is long at 600 pages but at no point did it feel laboured or that I wanted it to end. It is hugely fast paced barely leaving the reader time to catch their breath before the next swathe of battle and intrigue.

It is a novel with everything, war, intrigue and love and I cannot wait for the next in the series. My Mum is a recent Kate Mosse convert and she is going to love it!

About the author

Kate Mosse, OBE, is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 38 languages. Her fiction includes the Languedoc Trilogy, Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007) and Citadel (2012), as well as The Burning Chambers (2018).

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, known as the Bailey’s Womens Prize for Fiction as of 2014, and in June 2013 was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. Kate was born in Chichester, and she now lives in Sussex.

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