Given the rare international critical and popular acclaim that Kate Mosse’s LABYRINTH received, the only way to follow such a work would be to write a better one. With SEPULCHRE, Mosse has accomplished exactly that --- a substantial novel that reads much faster and lighter than its heft might suggest, mixing intriguing characters, dangerous situations, exotic places and fascinating times.
The general plot of SEPULCHRE is just similar enough to that of LABYRINTH to be comfortably familiar. In both books, two sets of events, people and places of the past and present slowly converge, for better and worse. SEPULCHRE, however, provides a stark contrast between its two timelines, even as both are infused with a fine and subtle hint of irony. Rennesles-Bains is the setting for events in both timelines. A picturesque town in the French mountains, it is the location of the Domaine de la Cade estate, which provides the focal point of what has happened and what will occur.
In 1891, 17-year-old Léonie Vernier, living in Paris, is invited to the Domain de la Cade by her aunt, a widow and sole occupant of the estate. Léonie is accompanied by her brother Anatole, a swell who finds it expeditious to leave the Parisian streets. Léonie, for reasons she is unable to fully articulate, is uneasy at the estate, though she is somewhat assuaged by her late uncle’s library, which, she discovers, contains a number of interesting works on the occult. She is most attracted, however, to a book dealing with the Tarot and to an account of an event taking place at a mysterious building referred to as the Sepulchre.
Even as Léonie searches for, and ultimately discovers, the enigmatic and dangerous building on the neglected grounds of the estate, danger lurks from within and without. Mysterious sounds are heard at night on the estate grounds, ones that portend a possible threat to those who live there. Meanwhile, Anatole is unaware that he is the subject of a pursuit by a maniacal enem