Kate Mosse comes to the blog with the first in the trilogy The Burning Chambers in
The Burning Chambers
I love historic fiction that transports and engages, particularly when you see the errors and mistakes in the past evidenced in the present –people really haven’t changed all that much, and frankly there are some whose own ambitions and desires override humanity. This is that tale – one of Minou, the eldest of three children and the ‘woman of the house’ after her mother’s death. Minou has always been allowed and encouraged to learn and read: as have her younger brother and sister, her bookseller father owns a small shop that stocks ALL kinds of books, particularly dangerous in these times of strife. Like in England with Henry VIII, there are a small yet growing group of people who are more Calvinist or Protestant in nature, wanting to ‘demystify’ the religion and bring it to the common people. Believing this to threaten the papacy and the priests – there are revolts, often violent, that have pitted neighbor against neighbor, and priests and the church against citizens. Into this mess there is Minou’s father – after her mother’s death and him returning from a journey, he’s been reclusive and isolated himself- we do learn later why – but she’s carrying the burden of the shop and the care of her brother and sister. Not particularly drawn to either religion (catholic or protestant) but singularly humanist in her outlook, Minou is disheartened by the attitudes of those around her, and carefully works to maneuver through her life staying out of trouble.
But, as we see from another POV (there are several in this story that provide both background information as well as add to current issues and mysteries) that Minou is not safe in her little hometown, and her father has arranged for her to go to her maternal aunt’s home for a sort of “finishing” in Toulouse. Leaving Carcassonne becomes almost imperative when she comes face to face with a Huguenot, Piet, being sought by the authorities for his role in a murder he did not commit. Although Minou and he met only for moments, sparks flew and the two will find one another repeatedly, in strife and quiet, until the story ends.
With people coming and out of the story, everyone with connections past and present that will impact the climax of the story and bring us no end of moments to gasp and wonder just where things will lead, the story is hard to put down yet wholly accessible. Each point of view is clearly presented with its own voice and style, and secrets to reveal, and there are moments of great hope and love that often feel as if they are the only light to be found in the dark times in which the story occurs. Gripping, mysterious and often atmospheric – one never really recognizes the simple fact of human nature being both light and dark – and often unchanged throughout generations. As a first book in a trilogy that really only takes place in a year, I can’t wait until the next.
Title: The Burning Chambers
Author: Kate Mosse
Series: The Burning Chambers #1
Genre: European History, Family Saga, France, Historic Elements, Historical Fiction, Middle Ages, Mystery Elements, Political commentary, Romantic Elements, Setting: France
Published on: 18 June, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 17 Hours: 12 minutes
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France, 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 stay alive.
As the religious divide deepens, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as tensions ignite across the city.
All the while, the shadowy mistress of Puivert Château—obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a long-hidden document—strengthens her power and waits for the perfect time to strike...
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.