Review: The Winter Ghosts, by Kate Mosse

Let me see if I have this straight.  Freddie, a young man in his late 20s, never recovered from his brother’s death in World War I ten years earlier.  Recently released from a sanatorium, he goes motoring around France in search of … something.  He is suicidal one minute, inexplicably pulls himself together, and not much later is on the brink of despair again.  Then suddenly he’s caught in a blizzard and has a horrific car wreck in which he almost goes off a cliff.  He hits his head on the windshield, which shatters in his lap, and he’s left bleeding and unconscious.  But when he comes to, he dusts himself off and manages to walk several miles down a remote, unmarked path to a village and finds a room for the night.  A hot bath proves just the ticket, as Freddie is rejuvenated and feels his grief subside, seemingly for the first time since his brother’s death.  WHAT?

And that’s just the first 85 pages.  This book was completely improbable and poorly constructed.  Freddie’s grief was melodramatic and not at all convincing.  The beginning of the story should have been believable, but wasn’t.  The rest of the book was intended to be fanciful, but instead was predictable.  And the writing … ugh.  This advance review copy included the usual disclaimer:  in quoting from this book for reviews or any other purpose, please refer to the final printed book, as the author may make changes on these proofs before the book goes to press. But I can’t help myself.  The Winter Ghosts should be entered in the Bulwer-Lytton (“dark and stormy night”) fiction contest, for gems like this:

Ironically, in light of my parents’ antipathy to my penchant for reading it was a book that did it for me in the end”

Or perhaps this:

Then, one day, it happened.  The soldiers came for us.

[End of Chapter]

My heart hit my boots.

On a more positive note, this book was only 260 pages long and I was able to skim through it in about a day.  🙂

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10 thoughts on “Review: The Winter Ghosts, by Kate Mosse

  1. I haven’t read this, so I’m simply speaking from word of mouth as it were, but this came out in the UK sometime ago and was universally praised, especially in the context of her previous books. I would at some point have picked it up, but now you’ve given me second thoughts.

    • Annie, I read positive UK reviews as well … But it just didnt measure up. If you’ve enjoyed her previous books though, you may want to give this a try.

  2. I read a couple of decent (but not unmissable) books by Kate Mosse years ago, but she lost me when she went blockbuster with Labyrinth. I wondered if this shorter book might be a return to form, but it seems not. Thank you for saving me from wondering whether to pick it up in the library!

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