The Winter Ghosts
by Kate Mosse
Clearly Ms. Mosse has a captivation for the period in history when the Cathars of France were viciously persecuted. Her trilogy, Labyrinth, Sepulchre, and Citadel center around this theme and the area of Carcassonne where she and her family live part time. This book, too, deals with the fate of the Cathars and they are the winter ghosts that appear and call out to Freddie Watson in 1928. Having lost the brother he idolized to the Great War and having spent time in a sanitarium to recover an ability to cope with the ensuing emptiness, Freddie takes a tour on the continent and crashes in a blizzard near the small village of Nulle. His car perched precariously on the edge of a cliff, Freddie walks through the forest and finds shelter chez les Galy and accepts an invitation to a celebration at the Ostal later that evening. He takes a wrong turn on his way to the Ostal and spends the night in the past, developing a relationship with a young lady who has starved to death after being sealed in a cave along with her family and other villagers escaping persecution. With the exception of the first and last chapters, the whole book is Freddie’s monologue of his story, the loss of George, the isolation within a family which doted on George and seemingly has no love for him, his meeting of the ghost of Fabrissa, and his rescue of the hidden burial cave in the French Pyrenees, the act of bravery which gives him the courage to find a way to honour victims of war like his brother by living. In honesty, I found it tedious. I guess I just prefer more action and less description and psychoanalysis. I will still read the third book in the trilogy, Citadel, but this particular work was a disappointment.