Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shelf Life [adult]

The Mistletoe Bride & other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse

Fans of Kate Mosse will find much to love in this collection of short stories, stories with roots in the more esoteric folklore of France and England, the legends that inspired her best-selling Languedoc trilogy (Labyrinth, Sepulchre, Citadel) and The Winter Ghosts.  Each tale haunts the imagination in a very different way; the spookiness of the title story is quite traditionally a ghost story, as is “The House on the Hill” – but the latter has a much more redemptive feeling than the former, producing a sigh of relief rather than a shiver of fear.  “Red Letter Day” and “Sainte-Therese” both have very strong heroines, but their fates are diametrically opposite - although satisfactory to both. “The Drowned Village” and “The Ship of the Dead” both explore how superstitions become entrenched in our daily lives and rituals but can be as frightening to outsiders as the original legends that inspired them. And there are some thrilling tales of revenge – bloodthirsty, ghostly, chilling revenge – served cold enough to freeze a Yeti’s toes. Each tale is accompanied by an author’s note from Kate Mosse, her own thoughts on what inspired the story or how it inspired her – budding writers will appreciate this added depth, but readers may prefer to skip over the notes and just delve into the next shivery tale.  Not that they are all creepy – my favourite short story was the shortest of all, “The Theatre at Night” (but then I am biased toward this particular subject), which deals less with theatre ghosts and more with the characters that have inhabited them night after night. Whichever type of evocative tale grabs your fancy, add your own atmosphere with a cozy blanket, a warm fire (or cat curled on your toes) and the lights dimmed… and let these stories niggle away at your dreams.  Find The Mistletoe Bride and other Haunting Tales under the tag Shelf Life Reviewed at

This review was published in the Stratford Gazette on February 20. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian.

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