Following on from the Sunday Times number one bestseller, The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse’s The City of Tears is the second thrilling historical epic in The Burning Chambers series.

August 1572: Minou Joubert and her family are in Paris for a Royal Wedding, an alliance between the Catholic Crown and the Huguenot King of Navarre intended to bring peace to France after a decade of religious wars. So too is their oldest enemy, Vidal, still in pursuit of a relic that will change the course of history. But within days of the marriage, thousands will lie dead in the streets and Minou’s beloved family will be scattered to the four winds . . .

A gripping, breathtaking novel of revenge, persecution and loss, the action sweeps from Paris and Chartres to the city of tears itself, Amsterdam. 

My Review

I described The Burning Chambers – the first book in the series – as epic. I can’t think of another word that fits The City of Tears. Once again we have conflict, religious wars and unbridled ambition, set mainly in Paris, Chartres and Amsterdam over a period of around ten years.

We join Piet and Minou living comfortably in Puivert, Minou now the Chatelaine, due to her inheritance. The family are planning a trip to Paris for the Royal Wedding between the Catholic Crown and the Huguenot King of Navarre intended to bring peace to France. Minou’s brother Ameiric will go separately as he is a soldier, but sister Alis plans to go with them. Piet and Minou have two children – seven-year-old Marta and two-year-old Jean-Jaques, who will also be on the trip.

But things in Minou’s life rarely go to plan and what should have been a beautiful celebration and coming together of peoples of different Christian denominations turns into a nightmare. Paris is burning and bodies litter the streets. No one is spared, not women or children or the clergy. Minou and Piet must flee but at what cost? I got so upset and angry I almost couldn’t carry on reading. I’m glad I did – I know with Kate’s books there will be sadness – but sometimes it is unbearable.

In the meantime, Cardinal Valentin – Vidal – is obsessed with collecting religious relics (real or fake it doesn’t matter so long as people believe them to be real). He has also acquired the service of a nine-year-old boy known as Louis, who we soon discover is his illegitimate son.

Following the massacre in Paris, Vidal has been forced to flee and seems to have gone underground. Power mad and bitter, he wants to start his own Catholic church based around the relics he has collected (a bit of a simplistic description for which I apologise). Piet and Minou are now living in Amsterdam but for them the conflict will never be over.

As with book one I got quite stressed at times. I got cross too as I mentioned above and was upset by certain decisions the family made, but then I suppose I have to put myself into what life was like in 1572 and not nowadays. I kept thinking about it but I’m afraid I didn’t change my mind by the end of the book.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), and Citadel (2012), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). The Taxidermist’s Daughter was published in 2014.

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex.

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