A review of this — 6 years ago
No, not the story of David Bowie in tight tights dancing with a bunch of muppets… This is a(nother) story about the ‘true grail’, a story of history repeating itself, and the echoes of the past having a firm grasp on the present.
There are two stories contained in this rather lengthy, near-700 page tome: that of Alice in the present day, and the girl whose life haunts Alice’s dreams, Alais, living at the end of the 12th Century. Both are inadvertanly caught up in the quest to protect the true secret of the grail, while threatened at every turn by those who want the promised power for themselves.
First note: this is not the Da Vinci Code, nor anything like it. While DVC was a punchy, fast-paced, but ultimately shallow action thriller (imo), Labyrinth tries to be far more intellectual. And I believe it is: author Kate Mosse has done a lot of historical research, and is intent, it seems, to meander through a couple of hundred extra pages to set that historical scene.
I do think the pace of this book has been badly misjudged. It starts off okay, setting the scene, but then it just keeps… going. Nothing really happening, just hints and vague promises of excitement. I had a real struggle trying to fit the pieces together, so infrequently are clues to the ‘bigger picture’ actually dropped into the first two thirds of this book.
Otherwise… well, it’s merely okay. There’s no brilliance to make me overlook how dull the middle, in particular, was. The characters aren’t fantastic: Alice is completely ignorant of what’s going on around her, pulled this way and that with, I imagine, a baffled expression on her face. Typical heroine, too, racing off into danger all by her lonesome. Alais is a bit better, but the surrounding characters are somewhat one dimensional, there to serve a story-role and not much else.
Ultimately, this isn’t dreadful. Kate Mosse can string a sentence together, her descriptive work is very pretty, and she does eventually get to an okay story. But you’ll need patience to get through this, and to be fair I don’t think there’s enough to really make it worth the effort.