I’ve mentioned before a couple of books that first turned me back onto reading as an adult. One of them was The Time Traveler’s Wife, among the others was Labyrinth by Kate Mosse.
Since Labyrinth was released some thirteen years ago, Mosse has written several other books, including two follow-ups to her debut – Sepulchre and Citadel. While I liked Labyrinth – and still have a copy of it on my bookshelf – I didn’t ever go back and read anything else from her. Something else always came up.
So when The Burning Chambers fell onto my desk a short while ago, I decided to give it a go.
Reader, I struggled. At least to begin with. It’s five hundred pages that explores the early days of the French civil war – the French Wars of Religion between the Catholics and the Hugenots.
We see it through the eyes of a handful of characters – led by nineteen year old Minou who receives a strange letter one day, leading to a chain of events that finds her fleeing from Carcassone to Toulouse before onto Puivert
I persevered though, and I’m glad I did. The more we get to know Minou and her family the more human the story becomes, the more engaging.
The struggle I had at the beginning was that much of the story relied on the politics of religion – the trouble with that, though is that as someone who doesn’t give much of a toss about religion, I found it hard to care what either side got up to. They were all behaving like a bunch of prats.
I felt like we didn’t spend enough time getting to know the characters – and it wasn’t until Minou’s younger sister was put into peril that I really started to care what was happening.
At that point, when it became more about the human element, I raced through the last half of the book.
Would I recommend this book? It’s difficult to say, and it comes down to what I always say, if you like this sort of book, you’ll like this book. It’s well written, it delves into the events of that time with – I assume – some accuracy. And if it’s not accurate, it as least believable.
The test comes with would I read the second book in the trilogy? For me, that depends on how quickly it comes. If it’s released next year, then the characters will probably still be fresh enough in my mind to pay them a revisit. Now I’m engaged with them, the next book should be easier to get into.
If I have to wait a couple of years…? I’m not sure I’d have the patience.
The Burning Chambers is published in Hardback on 3rd May 2018 by Mantle