THE WINTER GHOSTS by Kate Mosse
I first came across Kate Mosse’s books because Labyrinth dealt with Cathars. It was one of those so-so reads with a great setup which somehow missed the mark in the end. At the time, I was reading a lot about the Cathars who were the most successful of the groups of medieval heretics. And now a few years later my own Cathar novel is ready to take its turn amongst agents, I was drawn into another Mosse book about the heretics. In a way, it brings me full circle back where I started.
The Winter Ghosts follows the story of Freddie Watson who, too young to fight in WWI, suffers the loss of his older brother and only friend. On the mend from a mental breakdown, he travels through the French Pyrenees during the winter of 1928. During a mountain storm his car slides off the road. Poor Freddie hits his head and he knows he must go for help or die in the exposed elements. He eventually finds shelter in a small village, but while there an annual celebration opens the doors of time. Freddie meets the mysterious Fabrissa, several famous historical Cathar leaders, and is drawn to uncover dark secrets from the past. The tale is not terribly complicated, but gives Mosse the luxury of being able to delight in atmosphere and setting. Freddie’s loss and Fabrissa’s, although separated by hundreds of years, are the same. This is a perfect read for those long winter nights, tucked safely inside away from haunted mountainsides.