Mosse, Kate. Sepulchre

Orion, $32.95

1891: Leonie, a charming young nineteenth-century-heroine-type, leaves Paris accompanied by her brother to stay with a widowed aunt in Domaine de la Cade inFrance’s southwest. Evil lurks nearby.

2007: Meredith, a vaguely annoying feisty-American-type, stays in a luxury motel built on the ruins of Domaine de la Cade while researching a novel about Claude Debussy. Evil lurks nearby.

This “time slip” novel slides between our heroines, past and present, linked by lineage and a haunted deck of tarot cards. In fact, it has been described as part ghost story, part tarot tale (which really should ring warning bells). Readers expecting subtle literary realism will be disappointed.

As far as historical occultish mysteries go, this one throws a fair whack into the mix: a truly evil diseased villain with an irrational vendetta, a wise sage with the knowledge to burn, star-crossed lovers who find no sanctuary, dodgy demons, superstitious locals, scary occurrences, a haunted sepulchre… and, in the present, a truly evil villain, a bland love interest, and a tenuous pile of coincidences believable only if one agrees with the tarot reader’s daughter that there’s “no such thing as coincidence”.

Certain readers really dig this sort of thing. I am not one of them. Despite Mosse’s involved and compelling manner of storytelling, her elaborate tangle of plotlines, and her careful research in some sections, Sepulchre remains less than a sum of its parts.

Kate’s first book, Labyrinth, was a rabid bestseller, translated into over 37 languages. Sepulchre revisits some of Labyrinth’s turf, such as the alternating timezones between two linked female protagonists, present and past.

I didn’t like it much, but what do I know?  Bet it sells like blazes.

2008

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