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The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
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Old secrets cast long shadows… 

Oh, how excited was I when I heard Kate Mosse had returned with a new series set in the Languedoc region of France. I absolutely loved The Languedoc Trilogy – LabyrinthSepulchre and Citadel – so I was delighted to get my hands on a hardback edition of her latest release The Burning Chambers. Published by Mantle in 2018, I am already eagerly anticipating and awaiting the next book in this wonderful new series, due for release in 2020.

At nearly 600 pages, this was a book that I knew would require time and focus. Kate Mosse writes tales that are packed with historical references, taking her readers on a journey back in time. Every page brings to life another time and place with a rich atmospheric feel to each word written.

The Burning Chambers is the beginning of a new series where we are initially taken to South Africa, to a place called Franschhoek in 1862. There we meet a woman on a mission, protecting something that she holds very dear. But alas, is this where her story ends?

‘In a forgotten corner of a graveyard on the other side of the world. The story of a stolen journal and an inheritance. A tale that began three hundred years ago, on the eve of the civil wars that brought France to it’s knees.

“This is the day of my death” 

We travel to Carcassonne. It’s 1562 and the religious wars are picking up fervor. There is a palpable fear on the streets of the local towns and villages and, for Minou Joubert, life is about to change. Her father is the owner of a local bookshop but, in recent times, following his return from a trip, he is no longer able to manage. Minou is very concerned for her father. With her mother having passed away some years previously, Minou feels increasingly responsible for her family, including her younger brother and frail sister. On a day in 1562, Minou travels early to open the shop. She is surprised by a letter for her attention with no trace of who sent it, except for the family crest on the seal. The note is short but it’s words are powerful ‘She knows that you live‘. Minou initially is worried about what this message means but as her day picks up, she gets distracted and puts it away, with the full intention of discussing it with her father at some later point.

Meanwhile a young Huguenot, Piet Reydon, is on his own secret mission within the walls of the city. Their paths soon cross. Is it fate? Is it destiny? Minou is Catholic and with Piet now a Huguenot. can a real friendship be possible? There is a deep hatred between both sides, as the Catholic Bishops are frightened of the growing power of the Huguenot faction. Huguenot places of worship are being built with increased frequency in local towns and villages and the Catholic clergy are getting more angered as each day passes. Retribution and violence ensue, with the Huguenot population in a daily fear for their lives.

Minou and Piet soon find themselves entangled in a very dangerous situation where the lives of many, including Minou’s family, are at risk. Death is never too far from their door as the shadow of a stranger soon enters their lives and the house of Joubert finds itself in the middle of a living nightmare as they fight for their survival and all that they hold dear.

The Burning Chambers takes the reader on a journey from the walled city of Carcassonne to Toulouse where the religious wars continue to leave many dead in it’s path. Piet and Minou are unable to leave Toulouse due to the increased levels of violence and with each passing day their fear is heightened by what they discover and what they seek to accomplish.

The Burning Chambers is filled with incredible imagery, some scenes remaining with me long after I had turned the final page. There are multiple threads running through this story, making for a wonderful, passionate and well-researched novel. The level of detail that Kate Mosse describes is incredible, bringing the reader right into the pages. You can smell the fear, the burning flesh, the torturous instruments inflicted on the flesh of man. There is the story of a blossoming romance, one sparked amidst the surrounding violence, between two people who believe that folk can live harmoniously, no matter their religion. There is the personal battle between the Joubert family and another, a person intent on destruction and death. The religious wars, central to the story, add to the authenticity of the plot.

The Burning Chambers is a powerful and epic novel containing everything that I love in a book. The City of Tears, Book Two, will be published in 2020, as this series continues with more compelling words from this master of historical fiction.

Fascinating, intriguing, gripping, engrossing, riveting…I could go on.

Highly recommended….

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.