Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse

Labyrinth has all the obvious ingredients for a Book Trudy Should Love. It’s an adventure-in-research, with a volunteer on an archeological dig making a discovery that suddenly has a lot of sinister people interested in either recovering, or covering up, a centuries-old secret. Strong female characters — 13th-century Alais and the modern-day Alice who may be her reincarnation — are at the centre of this novel. It also has both history and religion (it focuses on the Albigensian Crusade in southern France), and even labyrinths! What’s not to like?

Well, nothing, but sadly there wasn’t much here to really fall in love with either. The story is well-executed and kept me turning the pages, but for some reason I was not drawn in to the novel the way I would like to have been. The main characters never became compelling enough for me — perhaps because there were so many characters that even in 600+ pages I felt there was too much going on to keep track of. Normally I like long books, but I felt that the payoff at the end of this one was not entirely worth it — I expected a labyrinthine complexity of plot but this somehow fell flat. There are plenty of plot threads going on and they do tie together, but the emotional impact that would make it all meaningful seemed (to me) to be lacking.

Put it this way: I bought the book to read in England, and it was so bulky it was hard to fit into our luggage. So I decided to leave it in the hotel room, because I knew I probably wouldn’t be rereading it. It’s by no means a bad book, but given the ingredients at hand, it didn’t add up to as much as I’d expected.

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Filed under Fiction -- general, Fiction -- historical

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