Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Who ever knows where truth ends and fiction begins? Kate Mosse, bestselling author of Labyrinth, brings us a tale of the past and the present, of history and mystery, held together by the presence of a mysterious Tarot deck. One story is that of a brother and sister in 1890’s France, while a second, closely related story follows an American graduate student researching the life of Claude Debussy. While being drawn into a web that will bring closure to a figure from the past, she is also getting closer to shedding light on the mysteries of her own personal past.
While this book is certainly about history and mystery – the beautiful young widow of a man accused of summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulcher on the grounds of his home in Rennes-les-Bains – it is also about the Tarot. However we choose to use the Tarot, we know that it works because it has a story to tell. And what a story Mosse has to tell!
It begins with a chance encounter on the streets of Paris, and an invitation to a Tarot reading. Graduate student Meredith Martin is amazed – and disturbed – to see her own likeness in the deck of cards used by the Tarot reader … on the card La Justice. She is even more disturbed when the reader insists on gifting her with the cards after her reading.
Her research takes her to present day Rennes-les-Bains, to picture, a piano and a piece of nineteenth century music – “Sepulchre 1891”. These things, along with the Tarot deck that she carries … and the deck that she is fated to find … hold the key to bringing resolution for a figure from the past, and the key to understanding her own shadows.
Along the lines of Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”, Mosse combines historical fact with well written fiction, making an excellent read. Mosse has captured the time of the past well – through descriptions of the French countryside, the local cuisine and the sprinkling of both French and Occitan phrases, we become part of another time and place.
Mosse creates multidimensional characters – people that you feel you know and understand – even though some of them you may not like. Woven into the story are threads of real life – health spas, the treatment (or lack of treatment) for sexually transmitted disease, the Cathars, and local beliefs in evil in general, and the devil in particular.
For those interested in the Tarot, in France and French history, in the Cathars and in the power of visions, this is a must read book. It will transport you into another time and place, and gift you with a stunning “time out” from everyday life.
© February 2009
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.