Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pg. 69: Kate Mosse's "Sepulchre"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Kate Mosse's Sepulchre.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother Anatole arrive in the beautiful town of Rennes-les-Bains, in the Pyrenees of southwest France. Born and raised in Paris, they’ve come at the invitation of their widowed aunt, whose mountain estate, Domain de la Cade, is famous in the region. But it soon becomes clear that their aunt—and the Domain—are not what Leonie had imagined. For starters, Tante Isolde is no graying dowager—she is young, willowy, and beautiful, but with a melancholy air that suits the strange, slightly sinister Domain de la Cade. Leonie discovers that the house has long been the subject of local superstition. The villager claim that the Devil walks in the forests of the Domain, and that Isolde’s late husband died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre high on the mountainside. A book from the Domain’s cavernous library describes not only the spell used to bring forth the demon, but the strange Tarot pack that is part of the ritual, a set of cards that has mysteriously disappeared following the uncle’s death. But while Leonie delves deeper into the ancient mysteries of the Domain, a different evil stalks her family—one which may explain why Leonie and Anatole were invited to the Domain in the first place.

More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in France to study the life of Claude Debussy, a 19th century French composer. Meredith finds a letter by Debussy suggesting a connection with the town of Rennes-le-Bains and unable to find any information in Paris, Meredith heads south. In Rennes-le-Bain, she checks into a grand old hotel—the Domain de la Cade—built on the site of a famous mountain estate destroyed by fire in 1896. Something about the hotel feels eerily familiar, and strange dreams and visions begin to haunt Meredith’s waking hours. A chance encounter leads her to a piece of 19th century music known as "the Sepulchre" and pack of Tarot cards painted by Leonie Vernier, which may hold the key to this 21st century American’s fate…just as they did to the fate of Leonie Vernier more than a century earlier. What is the connection between Meredith and Leonie? Do demons really haunt the mountains of the Domain? All will be revealed when the Sepulchre is opened at last...
Among the early acclaim for the novel:
“Superior hugger-mugger from an impressive new mistress of the genre… Mosse again proves herself a demon researcher (so to speak), and her novel's rich brew of supernaturalism and intrigue is tasty indeed.”
--Kirkus (starred review)

“Mosse intertwines her literary influences and the story at hand as playfully, intricately and suspensefully as she melds the material and the supernatural, past and present. Everything intersects in a goose bump-inducing finale at the sepulchre, which bears an inscription warning all who enter: 'Fujhi, poudes; Escapa, non.' (Flee, you may; escape, you cannot.) But really, with a book this much fun, who would want to do either?”
--Washington Post

"Sepulchre is a compulsive, fantastical, historical yarn. Mosse’s skill lies in the precise nature of her storytelling."

"The Labyrinth author is back with another brilliantly absorbing story ... Richly evocative and full of compelling twists and turns."

"Mosse’s gifts for historical fiction are considerable ... Mosse does what good popular historical novelists do best – make the past enticingly otherworldly, while also claiming it as our own."

"[Mosse is] a powerful storyteller with an abundant imagination."
--Daily Telegraph

"Her narrative lyricism, beautifully drawn female characters and deft journey from the past to the present day, are also a cut above."
--Scotland on Sunday
Read an excerpt from Sepulchre, and learn more about the book and its author at the Sepulchre website and Kate Mosse's website and her blog. View the video trailer for Sepulchre.

The Page 69 Test: Sepulchre.

--Marshal Zeringue