Arts

Books: Kate Mosse's historical novel The Burning Chambers entertains and educates

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

BOOK OF THE WEEK

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse is published in hardback by Mantle, priced £20 (ebook £8.55)

The first book in a new series of historical novels by best-selling author Kate Mosse, The Burning Chambers is packed with mystery, romance, war and her trademark attention to detail. Set in France in 1562, readers are cast back to the days of the Huguenot 'wars of religion', where 19-year-old Minou Joubert – who works at her father's bookshop – finds her world turned upside down shortly after receiving a mysterious letter, saying only "She knows that you live". Without realising she is in grave danger from a long-held family secret, Minou falls in love with a Huguenot convert, called Piet, and becomes embroiled in a terrifying battle between the Protestants and Catholics in Toulouse. As the war draws to a bloody climax, so too does the mystery surrounding her family. As with her previous novels in The Languedoc Trilogy, Mosse has filled the story with rich historical facts that both entertains and educates.

7/10

Holly Williams

Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall is published in hardback by Century, priced £12.99 (ebook 99p)

After bestselling debut Everything And Nothing and chilling second novel Dot, Hall has well and truly hit her thrilling stride with Our Kind Of Cruelty. Mike and Verity share a unique connection. From their sexual game the 'Crave' to Mike sharing his harrowing childhood, the pair are building an enviable life together – until all of a sudden they are not. As Verity appears to move on, Mike is insistent that they are sill destined for each other. Is Mike suffering from a delusion, or is Verity stringing him along? Whatever the answer, someone will end up dead. The twists and turns of the average thriller are absent from this novel; instead the reader will wrangle over what's real and what's imagined. As a courtroom drama unfurls, readers may be left wondering if their interpretation of events is due to their own biases.

7/10

Taylor Heyman

Happy Little Bluebirds by Louise Levene is published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £14.99 (ebook £12.99)

1940s Hollywood couldn't be further from the drab grey world of Woking, so it's a bit of a culture shock when Evelyn Murdoch is plucked from her job in the Postal Censorship department and sent to the US west coast to help the British propaganda war effort. From looking after her batty old mother-in-law to assisting a British agent who never actually appears, Evelyn is kept busy avoiding the Los Angeles German delegation and keeping up with Hollywood's absurd trends. Louise Levene's cinematic satire brings sunshine and glamour, while letters from Evelyn's sister-in-law are reminders of the real world – London under siege and severe rationing. The plot is a bit like a Hollywood film set facade, but there's pace and plenty of wit to keep you entertained until the credits roll.

7/10

Rebecca Wilcock

Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey is published in hardback by Viking, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.99)

In Whistle In The Dark, Emma Healey, the Costa Book Award-winning author of Elizabeth Is Missing, has produced an atmospheric novel which twists the happy-ever-after tale of a family being reunited with their missing teenage daughter into a gripping psychological thriller, questioning exactly what happened when she disappeared. The action is split between the family home and the Peak District, where the incident occurred, with 15-year-old Lana appearing bruised and confused after going missing for four days and unable to tell anyone where she was. The claustrophobic relationship between severely depressed Lana and her mum Jen is deftly drawn as the mystery of the teenager's disappearance deepens. Exploring the supernatural, mental health trauma, family relationships and teenage life in the age of social media, suspense is maintained throughout as Jen hunts down various possible explanations and the eventual revelation packs an emotional punch.

7/10

Laura Paterson

NON-FICTION

Eat, Drink, Run. by Bryony Gordon is published in hardback by Headline, priced £16.99 (ebook £8.49)

An uplifting book about how Telegraph writer Bryony Gordon quietened her inner demon – nicknamed Jareth the Goblin King – through exercise. Gordon, who wrote about her struggle with depression and OCD in Mad Girl (one of her two previous memoirs), went out for her first run to try to escape the "18-tonne Black Elephant" of mental illness, which felt as though it was crushing her in her own home. She found the physical pain was not nearly as bad as the mental torture of being inside her own head for those 20 minutes, and started to jog regularly before setting up walking support group Mental Health Mates to meet "like-minded souls". This frank and funny book charts her journey to the finish line and to a place where she finally feels comfortable in her own skin. An entertaining and inspiring read, especially for anyone who shares the nagging self-doubt Gordon battles every day.

8/10

Beverley Rouse

CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK

You're Safe With Me by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry, is published in hardback by Lantana Publishing, priced £11.99

At night in the jungle, a storm rages and the baby animals are too scared by the thunder, lightning and wind to sleep. But Mama Elephant explains and soothes all their fears, explaining how the natural phenomena help to nourish the natural world. British-Indian writer Chitra Soundar addresses childrens' universal concerns with reassurance, infusing Mama Elephant's parental wisdom with a gentle rhythm that lulls without rhyming and encourages participation. Yet this original tale's most memorable traits are the whorls and lines of Mistry's frankly mesmerising illustrations. They are beautiful to follow with the eye, evocative of a mandala, yet at times so gracefully curving that it takes a few moments to distinguish the creatures from the background. Smaller children may struggle to identify some of the animals, but this could also become a 'hide and seek' game. You're Safe With Me certainly stands out among the simple, brightly coloured drawings that are hallmarks of the genre.

9/10

Natalie Bowen

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