The Mistletoe Bride and other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse
Published by Orion
23rd October 2014
I hear someone coming.
It has happened before. I pause and listen but no longer hear anything. I sigh. As always, hope is snatched away before it can take root. And so then, as always, I am carried back to that first December so very long ago...
Rooted in the elemental landscapes of Sussex, Brittany and the Languedoc, here are tales of ghosts and spirits seeking revenge, grief-stricken women and haunted men coming to terms with their destiny.
This is the first of my Christmassy reviews this week. To be honest, I am not a fan of the short story genre. I don't know why, but they usually leave me feeling incomplete, like the story just ended, without having gone anywhere. One exception to the rule for me though is the work of Katherine Mansfield, and now I can happily add Kate Mosse to this too as I loved the stories contained within The Mistletoe Bride.
There are 17 stories in all, each very different from the other, but long enough to have left me feeling satisfied that they all had a proper conclusion. What I liked most about the book was that each story started with a title, time and place so that as a reader I knew where in history I was going before I had begun reading. I liked that. After each story, Kate Mosse then goes on to explain the history behind each story, what made her write it, or what folk legend it was based upon. I liked that too.
My favourite of all the haunting tales was that of The Mistletoe Bride.
At length an old chest that had long lain hid
Was found in the castle; they raised the lid,
And a skeleton form lay mouldering there,
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair.
Based upon the ballad The Mistletoe Bough by Thomas Haynes Bayly published in 1844, Kate Mosse tells the story of a young bride who with her other female guests plays a game of hide-and-seek from her groom and the other gentlemen of the wedding party. The only problem is that her hiding place is so great that she remains unfound. This was particularly haunting, and I really believed the story. If you love ghost tales then I really do recommend this, even if you aren't a fan of the short story - it converted me! A perfect accompaniment for a winter's night.