Book Title and Author: The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
Series: The Burning Chambers #1
Publication Date and Publisher: June 18, 2019 by Minotaur Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 592 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: June 11, 2019 (paper copy from the publisher)
France, 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.
But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to stay alive.
As the religious divide deepens, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as tensions ignite across the city.
All the while, the shadowy mistress of Puivert Château—obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a long-hidden document—strengthens her power and waits for the perfect time to strike…
Kate Mosse’s “Languedoc Trilogy”: Labyrinth, Sepulchre, and Citadel are three of my favorite historical fiction novels, so I was oh so thrilled when I heard she was writing a new series set again in the Languedoc province of France and even more excited to get my hands on a review copy of The Burning Chambers (let me just say that there’s some serious cover love going on between me and this book! Gorgeous!).
In this richly atmospheric, historical novel Mosse journeys back to the 16th century, to 1562 when France is teeming with strife between the Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots. Catherine de Medici, one of my personal favorite historical figures, is regent of France. This novel has everything you could ever want in a novel of this genre and time period: struggles for power, religious strife, torture, old family secrets, characters of noble birth, mysteries, danger, betrayal, poison, inheritances, villains and heroes, romance, love, and murder! Everything!
Minou Joubert is the young heroine of the novel and an outstanding female character. Her father Bernard is a Carcassonne bookseller and one day while at the bookstore, Minou receives a note she doesn’t understand but that means she’s in dreadful danger. Around the same time, Minou, who is Catholic, becomes deeply drawn to Piet Reydon, a Huguenot on a quest for his faith. The two become entangled in the most dangerous of situations, amid religious conflict, friend betraying friend, and forces pursuing Minou for their own end.
Although The Burning Chambers is 586 pages long, a lengthy novel, I read it in two days because I felt like I was part of a grand adventure thanks to her captivating, rip-roaring plot and the novel’s gripping history. It’s a novel where you have to pay attention because of the intricate, well-researched historical details Mosse puts in her novels, but I never felt like I was struggling to read it. The scenes are superb, and I think it’s very difficult to find another author in the genre who can write imagery this well―you really feel transported to the 16th century! Also, the characterization is second to none. Superb all the way around!
I have to say that I’ve been struggling with historical fiction lately, but Mosse’s novel not only pulled me right out of that struggle but reminded me why I have passionately loved medieval history for as long as I can remember and minored in medieval history while in college! This is an epic novel that I absolutely LOVED, and I am already (anxiously) waiting for book two, The City of Tears. I absolutely cannot recommend this intriguing, riveting read more if you love an epic, historical novel.
**Thank you Minotaur Books for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.**