As you all know I am a lover of historical fiction, so why has it taken me until now to discover the captivating power of Kate Mosse? And believe me, over this past week I have been hypnotised by her writing. I have loved every minute of it.
As I knew Kate Mosse was such a highly regarded author, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review her latest novel The City of Tears. However I am ashamed to admit that at that point I didn’t quite realise that it was the second book in a series. When I came to start reading it, that was when I discovered my mistake. However I felt that to do the new novel justice I should read its prequel, The Burning Chambers first. I have now spent the past week devouring both epic novels. It has been a true historic reading feast, in which I have just wanted to snuggle up with my books as I I’ve been swept away into the turmoil of 16th century Europe.
Yes, maybe you could read The City of Tears as a stand alone novel, but for for me I am so glad I chose to read The Burning Chambers beforehand. Not only was I fully engrossed in the fast paced prequel brimming with mystery and secrets, but I quickly became emotionally invested in Mosse’s young heroine, Minou Joubert, her siblings and her lover Piet Reydon. It is a stunning portrayal of blood thirsty European Renaissance history as it tells of sectarian violence within France between the Huguenots (similar to the Protestants) and the Catholics set against a backdrop of power seeking and betrayal.
I strongly believe that reading The Burning Chambers powerfully enhanced my enjoyment of The City of Tears as it made my reactions to the continuation of Minou’s family’s story all the more visceral. Throughout I was on an emotional roller coaster in which I grieved (yes, I can honestly say I genuinely grieved characters), celebrated along with the characters, and felt all consuming fear and heartbreak on their behalf. I absolutely loved the first novel in the Burning Chambers series, but for me the second novel has the slight edge. I found it so enthralling and I couldn’t put it down.
The City of Tears opens ten years on from The Burning Chambers in the hot summer of 1572. Minou and her family travel to Paris as they are invited to the Royal Wedding, an alliance intended to bring the Huguenots and Catholics together and finally bring an end to a bloody decade of religious wars. Just like the first novel in the series, the depiction of true historical events are skilfully interwoven into the emotionally charged and fast paced plot of The City of Tears. This includes the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in which ‘Paris was burning‘ and ‘civilians – men, women, children even‘ were massacred. This results in Minou and her broken family having to flee France. But at what cost…
Minou, along with her family forced to live in exile in Amsterdam poignantly portrays ‘the story of what it meant to be a refugee, a person displaced, a witness to the death of an old world and the birth of a new.’ Even though this novel is set in the 16th century, it tragically resonates with the world today.
I could happily write about The City of Tears for ever and ever, as it is so full of twists, rich historical details and emotion – but I don’t want to spoil it for you. It is simply historical fiction at its best. I now have a massive book hangover and am desperate to devour the third novel in The Burning Chambers series.
Thank you Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be involved in the blog tour of this stunning novel – I loved every minute of it. A big thank you must go to Kate Mosse for writing such a masterpiece.
To follow the blog tour please see below.
The City of Tears was released in paperback on 20 January 2022.