Sunday, March 20, 2016
The Taxidermist's Daughter - A Wonderful Gothic Mystery
AUTHOR: Kate Mosse
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
PUBLISHING DATE: March 29, 2016
FROM GOODREADS: A chilling and spooky Gothic historical thriller reminiscent of Rebecca and The Turn of the Screw, dripping with the dark twists and eerie surprises that are the hallmarks of Edgar Allan Poe, from the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Citadel.
In a remote village near the English coast, residents gather in a misty churchyard. More than a decade into the twentieth century, superstition still holds sway: It is St. Mark’s Eve, the night when the shimmering ghosts of those fated to die in the coming year are said to materialize and amble through the church doors.
Alone in the crowd is Constantia Gifford, the taxidermist’s daughter. Twenty-two and unmarried, she lives with her father on the fringes of town, in a decaying mansion cluttered with the remains of his once world-famous museum of taxidermy. No one speaks of why the museum was shuttered or how the Giffords fell so low. Connie herself has no recollection—a childhood accident has erased all memory of her earlier days. Even those who might have answers remain silent. The locals shun Blackthorn House, and the strange spinster who practices her father’s macabre art.
As the last peal of the midnight bell fades to silence, a woman is found dead—a stranger Connie noticed near the church. In the coming days, snippets of long lost memories will begin to tease through Connie’s mind, offering her glimpses of her vanished years. Who is the victim, and why has her death affected Connie so deeply? Why is she watched by a mysterious figure who has suddenly appeared on the marsh nearby? Is her father trying to protect her with his silence—or someone else? The answers are tied to a dark secret that lies at the heart of Blackthorn House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop—a mystery that draws Connie closer to danger . . . closer to madness . . . closer to the startling truth.
MY THOUGHTS: When I first saw this book, I have to admit it immediately caught my attention. I have always been intrigued by a good gothic tale every once in awhile and the fact that it was a mystery to boot made it all the better. I also have never read a Kate Mosse novel and I like giving new-to-me authors a try. I am certainly glad that I did.
Connie and her father Gifford live in a decaying house in Sussex. In the beginning, we learn that something happened to Connie as a child which caused her to block out 10 years of her life, and that her father, who suffers from depression and a serious drinking problem, knows more than he lets on. Quickly we are introduced to a unique and sometimes seedy cast of characters. As the story unfolds, the reader learns more about everyone's history and why the past still haunts them. Gifford used to be a famous taxidermist of birds, but has long fallen from grace so Connie has taken over the task. The art of taxidermy is critical in this book. In addition, there are a lot of birds throughout and they play an important role in putting the pieces together.
The setting it basically another character in this book and Mosse does a wonderful job weaving it, along with the dark, dreary and often stormy weather, into the tale. I immediately liked Connie as well as several of the other characters, especially Davey, the young man who does what he can to survive and who is also losing his childhood except for different reasons. Although the mystery itself was a tad predictable, the way in which it was told was not and even though I knew what was going on, I still couldn't wait to learn all the surrounding details.
The Taxidermist's Daughter is a truly enjoyable tale. Anyone who likes mysteries or just dark, gothic tales is likely to enjoy this one. I will definitely be checking out more of Mosse's works, probably sooner rather than later.
I received a ARC of this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
RATING: 4 PAWS