I have been very pleased in discovering Kate Mosse. The first of the two books I read in the past three days is her short story collection, “The Mistletoe Bride, and other haunting tales”. The word ‘haunting’ would be more apt replaced by ‘winter’. I’m impressed at how atmospheric it feels. Definitely one you would want snuggling up to in the middle of a cold night!
I wrote this short commentary on “Books for Life” Line OA publication:
“Have you ever thought of sitting down to calm those dreary bones from the humdrum of daily lives with a book bearing,”…here are the tales of ghosts and spirits seeking revenge, grief-stricken women and haunted men coming to terms with their destiny,” as its blurbs?
In the world of Kate Mosse’s short stories, ghost tales walk away from cheap scares and garish plots to make way for gentle narratives and retrospective moments. Here buildings twist, stories leap, and the trees carry among them secrets.
From the sweeping landscapes of quaint European villages, the past spills to the present and the future, weaving stories between people separated by the generations.
Haunting tales, as promised on the cover, are not haunting in the sense of spine-chilling, but haunting in the sense of knowing that moments are connected in such a way that stories could be real and imaginary all at once. Here the protagonists all share hearts in the need of mending that allow them to slip through the crack of reality for a brush with the supernatural. Perhaps the crossings are surreal, yet Mosse always threads them all back for her characters to return from their experiences with takeaways. It may be strength to face their hardships. It may be closures. It may be peace. It may be truth.
These are stories about people not wanting to be forgotten. These are stories about places and objects. These are stories about dreams and memories.
Beautifully soft, idyllic, and melancholic, The Mistletoe Bride brings with it hours of enjoyment to last many a stormy night–or equally stormy feeling.
Throw in a cup of tea for the perfect wintry treat.”
My favorite of this anthology would be “The House on The Hill”, “The Princess Alice”, “Red Letter Day”, and both the two iterations of the mistletoe bough legend: “The Mistletoe Bride” and “The Yellow Scarf” for they make for a charming bookend. I think it’s a nice touch. “The Princess Alice” is mundane, flatly so. But it’s the mundane quality that makes for its finer points. I’ve always been drawn to memoirs of a ‘no one’, because it often represents ‘everyone’ at the time, compared to the grander tales oft retold forever after. These are stories of ordinary people living their ordinary lives. “Red Letter Day” is eerily serene. It’s a story about someone who’s already resigned to their fate. “The House on The Hill” is enchanting in its descriptions. None of the story in this book is any twist-y, revolutionary, what you may. Instead, they’re all simple. You can usually guess where they’re going. Yet, you keep turning the pages. The same quality is also apparent in her novel, my second book, “The Taxidermist’s Daughter”, subject to my next post.