Friday, 25 September 2015

The Taxidermist's Daughter

The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse
Published by Orion
3rd September 2015
Paperback Edition


The clock strikes twelve. Beneath the wind and the remorseless tolling of the bell, no one can hear the scream . . .

1912. A Sussex churchyard. Villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will not survive the coming year are thought to walk. And in the shadows, a woman lies dead.

As the flood waters rise, Connie Gifford is marooned in a decaying house with her increasingly tormented father. He drinks to escape the past, but an accident has robbed her of her most significant childhood memories. Until the disturbance at the church awakens fragments of those vanished years ....

This is a much darker novel than any one of the Languedoc trilogy but I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Set in 1912 along the west coast of England, The Taxidermist's Daughter is both enchanting and gruesome in equal measure.

Connie Gifford, only child, lives with her father in an isolated part of Fishbourne.  Our story begins as the villagers are gathered around the churchyard waiting to see the ghosts of those destined to die within the coming year.  Whilst they are there, unknown to most, a woman is silently killed.

As Gifford drowns himself in drink, Connie discovers a body floating in the river that runs by their house.  But who is this woman in the expensive coat, and how did she get there?  Connie is convinced that her death is nothing short of murder, but it would seem that others disagree.

There are secrets to be kept in the village, and someone seems to have a long memory set on revenge.  For Connie, this is impossible, as an accident as a child has left her with no memory of her early life.  Could she have had any idea of the twists and turns of fate of the next coming days?

It's not easy to tell who is to be trusted in Fishbourne as many of the villagers have a past that they want to keep quite about.  Is Connie able to fully rely on Harry Woolston, whose father, along with Gifford, has mysteriously disappeared?  And who is the man watching the Gifford's home and why is he doing so?

As the rain continues to fall, and the surrounding waters of Fishbourne continue to rise, there can only be tragedy to come.  Coupled with this tale, we also learn much about the detailed work of the taxidermist, of which I'll admit, I knew nothing of beforehand.  It's certainly a most disturbing, yet complicated profession and whilst the extracts from 1820 were quite explicit in their detail, it certainly added to the gothic nature of the book.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

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