Friday 17 January 2014

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

I received this book as a gift. It is quite long but that should not put anybody off. It is well written and flows nicely. It is a grail story primarily following two female characters 800 years apart. I find that using a split narrative is risky, if it is done incorrectly it is confusing and stalls the story, it breaks the readers interest in the current story. In this book however it works incredibly well, it gives a series of mini cliff hangers and as a reader you keep reading to see what happens next to each character. The split also allows both stories to be told in "real time" and as equally important rather than looking back from a current day perspective. The split  also means that it is more than just another historic novel and the way the two stories are connected is interesting in it's own right. The sense of risk and danger in both threads makes an exciting read.

One of the most striking features of the book is how female dominated it is. Both main characters are female and  neither  are “shrinking violets”. Both are shown to be strong and wilful, they are not shown as perfect, the portrayal is very human both with realistic personality traits. This is balanced by other female characters being controlling and manipulating. This stops it being a story of women being wronged my men.
I think the intrigue in part is carried by the fact that it starts with the discovery of 800 year old skeletons. This creates a mystery as to who in the past thread met this end. It becomes a mystery as well as a current day thriller.

Although this book is centred around religion as a theme it is not a book about religion, it is a book about people and how they respond to circumstances, responsibility, power and to each other.

The whole thing is beautifully written with stunning descriptions of the areas. The surroundings and architecture come alive in the writing as does a feeling of unease. This is created in some ways by the juxtaposition of elaborate description of the scenery with fast moving plot and adventure.

The use of older and regional language is well incorporated, it does not detract from the pace and flow of the story but adds to authenticate the old thread. It helps give a sense of the time being written about. I didn't use the glossary a lot as all of the words were in context but it was reassuring to have it there if required.

Overall I found it a fun and interesting read, I loved the two threads and the complex main characters and I would recommend it.

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