Saturday, January 07, 2006

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Author: Kate Mosse
ISBN# 0752860534
Publlisher: Orion
1st Published: 2005
525 pages

Three secrets. Two women. One Grail.

The premise is simple – a woman stumbles upon a secret that could change the world, but she has no idea what it, or what her connection to it, actually is. She must unravel a mystery that transcends time & prevent the knowledge falling into the wrong hands. But who can she trust? It is a journey that will take Dr Alice Tanner not only back & forth across France, but time itself. Destiny can only take you so far before you have to make the decision to take the final step for yourself…

Have you ever been on a really big roller coaster? You sit there, strapped into your seat, & you slowly make your way to the top, but you don’t notice, because you’re too busy taking in the scenery. Then suddenly, it’s all whooshing past at a whizzy-fast pace & you’re clinging on for dear life.

That’s exactly what it’s like to read Labyrinth: At 525 pages in hardback, this is a long book that slowly winds its way through the story at a steady pace, getting you hooked on the perfectly executed intricacies of the story & then suddenly, you’re at the pinnacle & everything is happening at once.

Yet it never once lost me.

Mosse has created a wonderful cast of characters set in two very distinct times: The 13th century, & the modern day, with a unique blurring of the two which is quite exquisite. The focus of the modern-day tale is Dr. Alice Tanner, who is a volunteer on an archaeological dig in France & unwittingly discovers a link with the past via a cave in the Sabarthe mountains. Our 13th century heroine is Alais Pelletier du Mas, living in Carcassona in the Pay d’Oc. The two share a fate which has been labyrinthine in the making.

I got completely involved in the lives of both the historical- and modern-day characters; so much so, that they began to feel like old friends & I wanted my visit with them to continue. Before I realised it, I’d managed to spread my reading over little more than a week – I didn’t want it to end! I know I’ll want to revisit this book again & again.

The mystery is compelling; the writing, sublime.

The front cover carries a quote from Val McDermid, which says, “Eat your heart out, Dan Brown, this is the real thing.” I’d like to take that further. If The Da Vinci Code is like whipped cream – tasty, but light, Labyrinth is like the finest Jersey clotted cream – rich, delicious & a treat of substance. This is truly a book for book-lovers.

Rating: 8/10


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