Oh my goodness me. I haven’t read anything this bad for a long, long time. And I haven’t read anything this long and this bad for as long as I can remember.
So, what’s Kate Mosse’s recipe for a novel? Well, first spend a lot of the money people have given you for previous novels (also badly written?) on a house in a lovely part of the world and large amounts of leisure time exploring it. In this case it was the Pyrenees and in particular the area around Carcassonne.
Then what? Pick an era that is guaranteed to tug at people’s heartstrings and imagination. In this case, she seems to have had something of a dilemma because she obviously couldn’t decide between the 4th century or WW2. Her solution? Combine the two completely pointlessly. So pointlessly in fact that critical readers will be wondering why on earth she has done this and emerge none the wiser.
Plot development is woeful. So, some guy smuggled and hid a codex with 7 lines of some text on it 1600 years ago. For some reason the Nazis and the Resistance are after this text because, apparently, if the Resistance can get hold of it, the fearless Gestapo will simply disintegrate much like the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark… but without melting faces which were more interesting. Why this should be so is never explained. At least, someone should have told the countless Allied forces who were obviously wasting their lives with conventional weapons further north.
What about characterisation? Mosse paints flat, predictable personalities whose predominant characteristic is melodrama. There’s nothing deep here whatsoever. I kept waiting for a anyone at all to have an argument or perhaps discuss the many dilemmas of the political maelstrom they were caught up in. Nope. Everything was pretty straightforward. The good guys were good and the bad guys were bad. One exception was Autier who turns out to be as evil as they come. Could have done with more like him.
So it’s a period of utter brutality. But Mosse’s prose fails to rise to the occasion with awkwardly described gore and action scenes that bore the pants off you. And all along there are pointless details that do nothing to embellish the plot or characters. Okay, Tolstoy does this too. But he’s Tolstoy. Mosse is not.
It actually makes me angry that writers like Mosse can get published and obviously sell. It shows how unable we are to read well these days and engage with literature that actually helps us come to terms with the human condition. Mosse demonstrates that, for readers who can’t read well, there are writers who are equally talented.
Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | StyleRead more about how I come up with my ratings