I have to admit I’ve never read any of Kate Mosse’s work, but I was drawn to her new novel The Taxidermist’s Daughter by it’s intriguing blurb…
Is Constantia who she seems – is she the victim of circumstances or are more sinister forces at work? And what is the secret that lies at the heart of Gifford House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop?
I found it quite disjointed to begin with, possibly due to not having the time to get into it properly. However, the tale begins with and delights in the technicalities of Contantina’s trade (AKA: Connie), learned from her father who was once one of the best taxidermist of the time. Despite detailed descriptions of taxidermy, as Connie works on her recent Jackdaw project Mosse manages to create a romantic atmosphere with descriptions that are fascinating as opposed to repulsive. Since a mysterious event that has left Connie with no memory of the past the plot involves her mind recuperating after events 10 years previous.
As her memory slowly returns she meets her love interest Harry and soon after strange things begin to happen in the village. The body of a girl is discovered at the bottom of her garden and along with looking after her alcoholic father Gifford, Connie is subject of whispering’s and rumors in the village. Along with the traditional folklore still rife in Fishborne The Taxidermist’s Daughter has the feel of more of a Victorian pastiche. It has a wonderful feel to it, as the mystery unfolds the pace quickens and the sense of menace is never far away. Climaxing with a devastating storm, I could quite literally envisage the rising water and feel the battering wind, the final pieces of Connie’s jigsaw are put together and her memory returns. The true terrors of what happened 10 years ago are revealed.
The characters within The Taxidermist’s Daughter are easy to identify with, making the macabre turn of events even more shocking. I didn’t see it coming and despite being slow in some places Mosse has created a ethereal Gothic thriller full of intrigue and mystery. Throughout the book excerpts from a taxidermy manual, detailing the methods used in the preservation of specimens are quite distracting from the story and a tad unnecessary – Mosse’s writing needs no tricks. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Taxidermist’s Daughter, I just wish I had read it quicker!
If you liked this you may also like The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.