The Winter Ghosts, by Kate Mosse – review

By Jane Housham

The satisfying trademarks of Mosse's fiction are all in place in this romantic ghost story: its setting in the mountainous region of south-west France; a vulnerable narrator with a stake in the past; and, key to all, time-slips. Freddie Watson has lost more than a decade of his life since the brother he worshipped was killed in the Great War. Mentally depleted, he travels to the Pyrenees in the hope that the clean air might help heal his shattered nerves. In spooky circumstances he stumbles upon a hidden village and undergoes an experience that finally shifts the great weight of grief beneath which he has been trapped. The village was once at the heart of the Cathar cult, a Gnostic sect stamped out by the Roman Catholic church in the early 14th century. Mosse weaves her engaging tale with a delicate touch, dropping clues to her mystery in the form of colours and sounds. Slipped into the text like a secret nod of acknowledgment are the names of the masters to whom Mosse pays homage: Algernon Blackwood, MR James and Sheridan Le Fanu.

Jane Housham

The GuardianTramp

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