Kate Mosse - The Taxidermist’s Daughter (4 stars)

Kate Mosse - The Taxidermist’s Daughter

Subtle and seductive tale of murder and mystery from the Labyrinth author


The sodden marshes and thunderous skies of the small village of Fishbourne near Chichester – and Kate Mosse’s home – provide a suitably gloomy setting for the Labyrinth author’s new Gothic tale of murder and mystery. Mosse pulls that landscape in, manipulates it bit by bit, to create a novel that is subtle and seductive.

On the Eve of St Mark, Connie Gifford (the taxidermist’s daughter of the title) watches a group of men gather in the local churchyard. By the time she leaves at midnight, a woman is dead, silently killed by an unknown assassin.

Little does Connie know that this marks the start of a chain of grisly murders that will draw her into a haunting tale of betrayal and revenge.

Mosse is fondly known for the historical epics that make up the Languedoc Trilogy: Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel. But The Taxidermist’s Daughter couldn’t be further from those sun-streaked adventures. Laden with life, death and destruction, this novel oozes with a character that shows Mosse’s passion for the place where she grew up.

She excels at horror, using language and imagery to create a truly original page-turner and is at her best when creating character. Connie is a flighty, bird-like creature with an ardent desire to preserve life and the beauty in it; her companion Harry is an accidental hero, but also an artist and observer, and both negotiate the paths between art, life and death.

Nestled in among the feathers and flesh is a dark and mysterious tale, but one that is also touching and passionate. Mosse strikes a fine balance between character and concept, creating a thriller so unique that her talent is indisputable.

Out now.

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