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Taxidermist's Daughter Paperback – 20 December 2016
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- Publisher : William Morrow & Company; Reprint edition (20 December 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062402161
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062402165
- Dimensions : 13.49 x 2.46 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 897,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A superb, atmospheric thriller, its Gothic overtones commanding attention from the very first page, and the feathery motifs of the birds--crows, jackdaws, magpies--who fly through its pages growing more menacing with every turn."--Daily Mail
"Glossy as a crow's wing. Sure as a surgeon's scalpel. I bloody loved it. "--Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat
"Unputdownable, romantic, this is sure to be a bestseller."--The Times (London)
From the Back Cover
In a remote village near the English coast, residents gather in a churchyard. More than a decade into the twentieth century, superstition still holds sway: It is St. Mark's Eve, the night when the shimmering ghosts of those fated to die in the coming year are said to materialize and amble through the church doors.
In the crowd is Constantia Gifford, the taxidermist's daughter. Twenty-two and unmarried, she lives with her father in a decaying mansion cluttered with the remains of his once world-famous museum of taxidermy. No one speaks of why the museum was shuttered or how the Giffords fell so low. Connie has no recollection--a childhood accident has erased all memory of her earlier days. The locals shun Blackthorn House and the strange spinster who practices her father's macabre art.
When a woman is found dead--a stranger Connie noticed near the church--snippets of long-lost memories begin to tease through Connie's mind, offering glimpses of her vanished years. Who is the victim, and why has her death affected Connie so deeply? Why is she watched by a mysterious figure who has suddenly appeared on the marsh nearby? The answers are tied to a dark secret that lies at the heart of Blackthorn House, hidden among the bell jars of her father's workshop--a mystery that draws Connie closer to danger . . . closer to madness . . . closer to the startling truth.
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Top reviews from Australia
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Entire lives are stripped back to that one night 10 years ago.
It’s a bit hard to say too much about this novel without giving away its secrets. Having said that – however – much of what unfolds is fairly obvious. There are too many coincidences to not be able to join the dots.
I have to admit this is not the sort of book I’d usually read. On the face of it, it’s about a fresh murder and some disappearances which may, or may not, be associated with long-hidden events.
I really struggled with the first third of this book – which was very slow – but eventually became intrigued by the two lead characters, Connie and Harry.
3 stars from me - mostly because of the writing.
Read the rest of the review in my blog:
Top reviews from other countries
Gifford used to be a successful taxidermist who owned a museum where people would come from miles around to marvel at his exhibits. He and Connie lived there happily until she was 12.
An unsuccessful court case ruined him financially and they were both forced to move into the current property but not before the terrible incident. The incident that Gifford's kept a secret and which has haunted him for years, driving him out of the love of his work and into the depths of alcoholism.
At the age of 12 Connie witnessed something. At first she couldn't understand what was happening. Then she knew it was WRONG. A fall. She's lost all memory of the first 12 years of her life. Except, now, images are beginning to flash in her mind that are oddly familiar and they're becoming more and more frequent.
One grim day, Connie and her maid discover a woman's body floating in the stream at the bottom of the garden. She's been murdered. Garrotted with a taxidermist wire. Connie's father is the only taxidermist for miles around. Surely he couldn't... Connie needs to know who the woman is, with the minimum of fuss and why her father's mysteriously disappeared on the day the dead woman's been found.
Though set in 1912, the story has a very dark Victorian feel to it. This compliments the bleak, ferocious weather conditions that are prevalent throughout the novel and adds a very strong oppressive atmosphere.
What starts off, as one assumes, to be a good old fashioned murder mystery, speedily evolves into something far more sinister and gruesome (the clue's in the title).
Mosse takes enough time on her leading characters for you to learn enough to be interested in them but doesn't dwell too long and concentrates more on keeping the plot running at full pelt, whilst you're left constantly guessing and hungry for what's around the corner.
The supporting roles, particularly Mary, (Connie's maid) and my favourite, 11 year old wayward Davey, are very endearing, as they rally round Connie in the second half of the book when she's at her most frantic.
There are bursts of graphic detail of taxidermy, but to start with, the author cleverly leaves an air of uncertainty of what the animal is, the unknown person is working on. All is revealed at the novel's intensely suspenseful, dramatic conclusion.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed Mosse's tale of what some may believe as justice. A classic page turner in every sense. It reads easily. The chapters are short and the plot moves relentlessly. The epilogue was the cherry on the cake.
I'd recommend The Taxidermist's Daughter to all. Guaranteed to get you biting your nails on those cold, windy, wet nights.
Set in 1912, it concern's Connie Gifford who lives with her father. She has taken up his occupation of taxidermy. She has a partial loss of memory as a child due to an unknown dreadful event that took place. Gradually, however, her memory has started to return. Connie knows she used to have a sister called Cassie.
There is a slight gothic air in the first few pages, and towards the end, which would have been better applied throughout, rather than leaving it until the truth is revealed.
Kate Mosse had the groundwork to make it a very good story, with the chilling facts that are disclosed. The storm that hit's the village near the end is a highlight. Alas, it is one of those stories I would read only once.
I really liked this book. I have found some of Kate Mosse's other books a bit too long and drawn out but this one is a more reasonable length and a very intriguing storyline. I liked how it all unfolded and it kept me guessing for the most part. It's very atmospheric and I found I could easily imagine each setting. Quite a dark tale but I enjoyed it.
I enjoyed the characters and the locations as well as the views and use of taxidermy in earlier times when modern technology wasn't available.