Wednesday 21 April 2021

Book Review: The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse


The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse book cover

Sussex, 1912. In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to be seen. Here, where the estuary leads out to the sea, superstitions still hold sway.

Standing alone is the taxidermist's daughter. At 17, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it is all that is left of Gifford's once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The stuffed animals that used to grace every parlour are out of fashion, leaving Gifford a disgraced and bitter man.

The bell begins to toll and all eyes are fixed on the church. No one sees the gloved hand pick up a flint. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead.

While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible but finds herself under suspicion. 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?

Chilling and atmospheric, The Taxidermist's Daughter is a beautifully written Gothic novel. 

This is a dark and suspenseful story featuring multiple plot threads across the past and present. It is told from different perspectives, each helping to bring the plot together and shed new light on events both new and old. 

The main character, Connie, is complex and intriguing. She is independent, capable, and highly intelligent. Not only does Connie run the house and look after her father, but she is also a skilled taxidermist in her own right. The book follows Connie's journey of discovery as she tries her best to break through and remember 'the forgotten years'. 

The scenery and storytelling really make this book - it is anchored by its setting and the two make a perfect match. As the story reaches its climax the weather only gets worse, asserting its dominance over the landscape. It seems almost as if the weather and the atmosphere have a personality of their own! 

Moody and mysterious, this is a gorgeous Gothic read.

Rating: 4 stars

The Taxidermist's Daughter is available to buy now.

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Have you read the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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