Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Review: The Taxidermist's Daughter

Kerry Hammond is here today to tell us about the latest gothic novel from international bestselling author Kate Mosse.

The Taxidermist’s Daughter, by Kate Mosse, published in hardback by William Morrow. Sometimes a book’s title can be so mysterious that you feel that you must read it to find out more. That was definitely the case with The Taxidermist’s Daughter, but what really sealed the decision for me was the tagline underneath the title, “In death there can be beauty.” I was immediately hooked.

This book is a wonderful example of a gothic novel, full of atmosphere and mystery. The setting is the remote English village of Fishbourne in 1912. Add a brewing storm, a mist that covers the land, and the ghoulish art of taxidermy, and you’ve got the backdrop of a great story. Constantia Gifford is our protagonist, a young woman with a passion for taxidermy, a skill she learned from her father. The locals find Connie to be a bit strange; not only does she work in a field mostly occupied by men, but she is twenty-two years old, unmarried, and living with her father in a once grand but now worn down mansion on the outskirts of town.

A woman’s body is found in the graveyard following St. Mark’s Eve, a night when many of the town’s superstitious residents attended a late night outing outside the church. Connie, who was present at the celebration, had noticed the woman that night and wondered about the stranger in town. The woman’s death, and Connie’s father’s mysterious disappearance, awaken snippets of lost memories. Those lost memories are the result of an accident years before and Connie has always been troubled by the missing pieces of that day. As she unravels her own past, regaining the lost time, she begins to understand what she has blocked out and how it relates to not only her father’s disappearance, but to several other prominent citizens of the village.

What follows is a gripping tale that will make it very hard for you to put this book down. As the events of the novel unfold, it’s as if the reader is watching a clock tick down to the final solution. I was pulled along for the ride as the storm got nearer and the secrets began to be revealed. The characters were well-written and each one played an integral part in the story, adding to the mystery and never distracting me from its purpose. This book sold me on this author, and I plan to search out her earlier novels.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review is fair and independent.

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