The Burning Chambers is vastly ambitious and in the early chapters the reader may feel dazzled by the sheer number of characters and viewpoints, but Mosse has an instinctive feel for narrative momentum and the pace rarely falters as she moves between the intimate, domestic world, and the jostling for political power that shapes the lives of ordinary men and women ... Mosse weaves historical events and figures seamlessly with her own characters, and wears her considerable research lightly ... The Burning Chambers is a tour de force, a compelling adventure that views the past with insight, compassion and humour, and reminds us of the variety of women’s voices so often forgotten in the official accounts.
...[a] stirring new historical novel ... There’s a pleasingly old-fashioned feel to Mosse’s storytelling, with its chaste lovers, purloined letters, breathless escapes, plotting aristos, plucky youngsters and gruff but lovable soldiers ... If Mosse’s prose can be workmanlike, her plotting and pacing are impeccable. So is her ability to bring to life an extraordinarily complex conflict and era, as well as a vast cast of both fictional and historical figures ... Mosse doesn’t overstate the parallels between the 16th century’s Wars of Religion and our own. She doesn't need to ...[a] deeply satisfying, richly imagined novel...
...[a] meaty historical ... As usual, Mosse infuses the narrative with plenty of authentic historical detail while creating a highly charged atmosphere of intrigue. The mystery, the love story, and the incendiary nature of both setting and plot will keep readers turning the pages and eagerly awaiting the next volume.
Unlike most historical fiction peopled by kings and queens, dukes and earls, and every other aristocrat with any claim to power, The Burning Chambers features ordinary people, mainly middle class skilled artisans and shop owners, along with their servants who are more often treated as family members rather than nameless minions who perform necessary, but often unpleasant chores for their masters ... Mosse weaves a rich-textured tapestry of history, characterization, and setting that brings to life a time of intolerance that seems an echo of our own...However, the prologue set in the 19th century in South Africa, seems a discordant scene as there is no context. It might have worked better as an Epilogue ... Otherwise, The Burning Chambers is a masterful novel that will keep one reading far into the night. The next entry to this series can’t come too soon.
I admit this is my first Kate Mosse novel, but I can see why she is so popular. Minou in particular is an engaging heroine: warm-hearted, courageous, and liberal-minded in a period when the slightest suspicion of heresy could lead to denunciation and the Inquisitional prison in Toulouse. The secondary characters are deftly sketched in ... The plot twists and turns, with some clever use of dramatic irony to heighten the tension... I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
The exposition is somewhat heavy-handed as characters discuss political upheavals, military factions, and religious strife past and present—including the purge of the Cathar heresy. However, the history is engrossing and goes down easy thanks to the hurtling plot. Mosse has successfully cornered the Midi market.