Thursday, July 1, 2010

Labyrinth - Kate Mosse

Sorry for being gone so long! No, I was not dead, I was not in Antarctica, and I was not attempting to read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest (though I do intend to at some point) or Tolstoy's War and Peace (which I also intend to read; Anna Karenina is one of my favorites). Rather, I was doing schoolwork--to make a long and painful story short, I had to do two semester classes, chemistry and A.P. World History, in a few short weeks. Understandably, I didn't have much free time, but I'm back now, a proper high school senior! How strange.

Had I had the time, I'm quite sure I would've read Labyrinth by Kate Mosse straight through. While it's not a quick read by any means, it is very captivating and suspenseful. Labyrinth follows the story of Alice, a volunteer on an modern archaeological dig, and Alais (the "i" has an umlaut over it, but I can't figure out how to do that on Blogger), a young woman in medieval France. On the dig, Alice discovers a cave with two skeletons, writing on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth on the floor. From there, Alice is thrown into what becomes a search for the Holy Grail. Back in 1209, Alais' father asks her, as the Crusaders approach to wipe out the French Cathar "heretics," to help protect an ancient book, one of three that will reveal the secret of the Grail.

The book alternates between Alais and Alice, the chapters becoming shorter and shorter near the climax. This added greatly to the suspense of the book for me. I love when the plot of a book leads me up a giant hill, culminating in one point where I see everything--the "aha!" moment, if you will--and Labyrinth certainly does that. The characters were very well fleshed out as well, though there was one character (Oriane, Alais' sister and one of the baddies) that seemed one-dimensional. Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the depth to which the book was entrenched in history. Labyrinth is often compared with Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, but I don't think that comparison is valid beyond the surface, at least not as I read both books. When reading The Da Vinci Code, I consciously noticed Brown's use of historical fact; my mind would be diverted from the plot momentarily, noticing that he was referring to something that actually happened. In Labyrinth, this was not the case at all. I was immersed in the story the entire time I was reading it, and the fact that the historical background existed did not distract me from the story as it did in The Da Vinci Code.

I greatly enjoyed Labyrinth, and after finishing it, I ordered Sepulchre, the second in the trilogy. I can't wait until it arrives--as Philippa Gregory said, "the past comes to life." History and suspense lover that I am, I couldn't help but love it.


  1. I have seen this book around but the size of it puts me off quote a bit, its a doorstop. Maybe in a few months.

  2. Oho, I'm so glad you've reviewed this book, it seems like I'm going to love it!