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The Taxidermist's Daughter    by Kate Mosse order for
Taxidermist's Daughter
by Kate Mosse
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Moody and atmospheric with plenty of Gothic elements, this latest Kate Mosse novel is set in West Sussex in the small hamlet of Fishbourne.

The story's heroine, Constantia Gifford, lives here with her father, a man who was once famous for his taxidermy skills. Just into her early twenties Constantia and her father live in a decaying mansion outside of the village and the young woman practices the skills her father has passed on to her.

The isolation of the Blackthorn House wears heavily on Constantia as well as the fact that she remembers little of a traumatic childhood event that left her father a changed man.

Opening on St. Mark's Eve, the annual eerie festivities at the local church initiate a series of events that not only dredge up some of the Giffords' family secrets but those of the village as well.

Like any good tale of mystery and deceit, this story builds slowly, but once it takes hold of the reader it will be all but impossible to set aside. The pace does appreciably quicken. By the midway point you'll be surprised how the action accelerates and your attention is totally consumed by the characters and the new discoveries they stumble upon in each chapter.

If you enjoyed the author's previous works, like Labyrinth or Citadel, you'll find this an equally enjoyable and satisfying historical thriller.

2nd Review by Mary Ann Smyth (Rating:3):

While reading The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse, I was so captivated by a raging storm scene, that, when I glanced outside my window, I was surprised to see the sun shining brightly.

The story takes place in 1912 in a remote English village. The protagonist, twelve-year-old Constantia Gifford, has no memory of her past. Told she fell down a flight of stairs and hit her head on a concrete floor, she feels lucky she survived. She should be glad to be alive. She is. But her lost memory niggles at her. She knows something bad happened to cause her fall. But what?

We learn a good bit about taxidermy while absorbing the times in which Connie lives with her father, whom she calls Gifford. Learning taxidermy from him, she finds the work involved to stuff a bird takes her mind off herself.

A dead body is found floating in the river flowing near Blackthorn House, the Gifford's home on the English Coast. The dead woman looks vaguely familiar to Connie. Which starts to jog her memory. Connie is now sure something awful happened that terrible night when her life changed drastically. And now, men begin to disappear from the wee village, leaving no trace.

You must read this book to learn what Connie has forgotten. Full of atmosphere and finely described characters, it will hold you spellbound from first page to last. Birds dominate several scenes with their calls and lovely feathers. Gripping drama keeps the pages turning. And there's blustery weather with a raging sea, trees bowing with the wind, leaves stripped from their limbs, and huge raindrops that make themselves heard when they contact the ground.

Mosse is well-known in the literary scene with international bestsellers under her belt, and is co-founder and honorary director of the well-known Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is a really good read. Don't miss it.

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