Killer Nashville Book of the Day
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse
Reviewed by Kelly Saderholm
If you plan to read The Taxidermist’s Daughter (William Morrow) by New York Times bestselling author Kate Mosse, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time, because once you pick up this Gothic thriller, you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to put down.
Set in 1912, The Taxidermist’s Daughter contains classic Gothic elements to make any fan of the genre happy: a decaying mansion on a remote English Coast; a vulnerable young woman caring for her ailing father; horses, carriages, servants, dashing young men, dark family secrets, moody atmospheres, and villains galore. Mosse also throws in a tantalizingly eerie Taxidermy Museum, a local ghost legend, and more than a hint of madness. But while she gives the reader the comforts of familiar elements, her vivid writing and compelling characters breathes fresh life into an old (and often overwrought) genre.
The eponymous character, Constantia (Connie) Gifford, is living with her addled and often-intoxicated father. After secretly viewing a strange gathering at the local church on Saint Mark’s Eve, she finds the strangled body of a stranger. While the woman has obviously been murdered, Connie is surprised that there is no investigation into the crime. Other mysterious strangers are seen walking along the marshes, and Connie becomes convinced that these events are somehow tied to her own mysterious past—if only she could remember what that past was.
Especially compelling in this novel are well-rounded characters like Connie, who is not the typical naïve damsel in distress rushing into danger in a flimsy nightie. She is not helpless, and proves refreshingly resourceful. Other characters are equally interesting: good people with a dark side, a rogue turned hero, and more. We see how seemingly ordinary people react, either positively or negatively, in extraordinary circumstances, as we race along with the characters to the book’s exciting and stormy ending.
Kelly Saderholm has written, blogged, and lectured about aspects of the mystery novel. She has moderated panels and presented papers at literary conferences, on both the Mystery Novel and Urban Fantasy. She is currently shifting from writing about mystery fiction to writing actual mystery fiction, and is working on a novel, as well as a non-fiction book dealing with Folklore in the American South. She is a recipient of a Kentucky Foundation for Women grant. She lives in South Central Kentucky with her family and two feline office assistants.
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