Title: The Taxidermist’s Daughter
Author: Kate Mosse
Hardback: 432 pages
Why did I chose to read this book: Love her Labyrinth, Sepulchre & Citadel books so thought I would investigate her further as an author.
Where to read this book: To fit the book’s dark and let’s say rather creepy storyline I would chose somewhere like the catacoombs in Paris but to be more realistic I would suggest The Horniman Museum in London which is, unsurprisingly where the author had her book launch.
Refreshments: The subject matter doesn’t really lend itself eating…at all. I instead supped on a full-bodied red wine my tipple, influence by my recent sojourn to Chile, was a bottle of La Postolle’s Carmenère – highly recommended!
In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to walk. Here, where the estuary leads out to the sea, superstitions still hold sway.Standing alone is the taxidermist’s daughter. At twenty-two, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it contains all that is left of Gifford’s once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The stuffed birds that used to grace every parlour are out of fashion, leaving Gifford a disgraced and bitter man. The string of events that led to the museum’s closure are never spoken of and an accident has robbed Connie of any memory of those days.The bell begins to toll and all eyes are fixed on the church. No one sees the gloved hands holding a garotte. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead. While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible – and why the incident is causing memories to surface from her own vanished years. Does she know the figure she sees watching from the marshes? Who is the mysterious caller that leaves a note without being seen? And what is the secret that lies at the heart of Blackthorn House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop?
Mosse’s descriptions are sublimely atmospheric and gothic creating a realistic and dramatic scene to the psychological thriller that is about to be laid out to the reader. Unfortunately, Constantia isn’t my favourite of female characters she is too strong to the extent that she becomes quite irritating – her useless alcoholic father is probably a reason for this extreme self-reliance. However, her journey back into her memory and the ardent need for the truth is heartening and eminently translates into a fascinating storyline.
In between the chapters there is diary-style entries from an unidentified women which starts to unravel the story and the sinister event that triggered her actions and dark retribution on those culpable. It is this character that hooks the reader and drags them into the uneasy history. Her narrative is often shocking and on a par with scenes that are more common in scene of the TV series Hannibal.
The love story that develops through the story between Constantia and Harry is a little slapdash and hurried one glance and there is infatuation. Their lives are intrinsically linked so it is obvious that their relationship will develop in this manner I just wish it was done in a more subtle style.
Not on a par with Labyrinth – one of my favourite books especially as I was living in Toulouse at the time – but still entertaining in a dark and extremely disturbed way.
Rating: 7 out of 10