The Mistletoe Bride

Mistletoe

Author: Kate Mosse

Finished on: 5 June 2016

Where did I get this book: A gift from a friend who spotted it in a charity shop, and knows how much I love a good haunting tale

Is there anything more delicious than a ghost story? To me, they are second only to a whodunit in their irresistibility, and I devoured this book of short ghost stories whole on one lazy Sunday.

The joy of a book in a day. And although this one feels like it should be read on a cold winter’s night, snuggled by a roaring fire, it was actually read on a beautiful sunny day lying on a blanket in the garden with a gin and tonic (it’s a hard life, I know). It’s probably for the best. I didn’t get spooked at all, and even managed to go to the loo all by myself.

Although to be honest I suspect I wouldn’t have found these stories frightening no matter the setting of my reading them.They are not spine chillers. Most are stories of time slips; worlds colliding. What Mosse calls

A crack in time, a slipping between this world and another

Which I have always loved. Ever since I read a book called The Amazing Mr Blunden when I was a little girl, about all time existing simultaneously; everything that has ever happened in one place being there if you can just take off the blinkers and see it. I have felt it myself in places where the past feels so present it seems you could blink and find yourself surrounded by people from another time.

I am not generally a fan of short stories. Much as a like the idea of them, ultimately I find them unsatisfying because I’m all about the getting to know your characters. I like the courtship and the commitment of a long-term relationship with the people in the books I read. But in ghost stories it is the concepts that are gripping. Especially when they are as evocative and well-written as this. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have time to get to know the people, because it’s not really about them.

I had my own cosmic time slip on the first page of the foreword. Mosse opens with

I expect to pass through this world but once;

any good thing therefore that I can do,

or any kindness that I can show to any fellow human being,

let me do it now; let me not defer nor neglect it,

for I shall not pass this way again.

which is a quotation my granny had stuck to her piano, and which my granddad asked me to read at her funeral. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of my granny to me, and  I’ve never seen or heard of that quotation anywhere else until now. The strange thing is it’s not even clear how it relates to the rest of Mosse’s foreword, or the rest of the book. Maybe everyone that opens The Mistletoe Bride finds a different quotation at the beginning, tailor-made just for them; like Mary Poppins’s medicine.

Recommended. Even on a sunny day.

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