When I picked this book off a shelf in my friends’ apartment, I had this crazy hope that it was some sort of book version of the David Bowie movie, and I just hadn’t known it was a book first. Oh, that it had been.
How can I explain how lame this book was? I can’t, so I’ll just give you some facts. First, it took me over 3 weeks to admit to myself that I didn’t want to finish it. Second, I found myself constantly skipping several pages at a time to finish a stalling conversation or an excessively long travel scene. Third, in the end I just admitted to myself that I wasn’t going to finish the thing, as I had about 100 pages to go, and stopped. This book was supposed to be a “new take on the Holy Grail”. By the end, I kind of wanted to see the grail and have it end my misery.
The main concept is that there are two women, Alice in 2005 and Alais in 1209. They are somehow related, though it takes Alice about 350 pages to figure it out and even then it’s not made very clear what the relationship is. Alais is the daughter of one of severl guardians of the “trilogy of the labyrinth”, or some nonsense, though it takes her about 375 pages to find that out with any certainty. The trilogy? Apparently 3 books which, when combined, help you find the grail. I admit I stopped reading before I found out how on earth 3 books with ridiculous names- The Book of Numbers, The Book of Healing, and the Book of Words- were going to do that. The connection to a/the labyrinth itself was also hard to understand, as was the religion of Alais and her people; they were living in southern France in 1209. They were Christian, I think, but the Catholic crusaders wanted to kill them- what? I guess I don’t know a lot of medieval French history, but should I have to in order to read a book like this? Additionally, there were many random and only briefly-visited characters, like Alice’s friend Shelagh, who disappears after yelling at Alice and then reappears around page 300, locked up in a basement. Another character appears once, gives Alice something, and then gets hit by a car.
Yes, you’re right- this does sound like a choppier, unedited version of a Ringer episode. But if Sarah Michelle Gellar was in this book, I might have found it more entertaining.
Honestly, I think my biggest problem with the book was the technical aspect. I love switched perspectives, and I don’t think Mosse did it well. I also think she could have saved some time, ink, and trees and made this book more like 250-300 pages total rather than over 400. There are just so many drags, stalls, and repeated scenes of confusion. Yes, I get it, Alice is basically a clueless little girl in the body of a woman who is…how old, anyway? 20? 30? I never figured that out, either. She apparently was in a long relationship, and she apparently has been out of university for a few years, but what does that say? All I knew about her was that she was British, presumably… meanwhile, her distant relation, Alais, is probably about 17 or 18 and apparently she had all the spunk for the next 10 generations. I hate unlikeable heroes and I don’t know why writers make them, most of the time.
Anyway, the point is, I wasn’t buying it. I couldn’t follow her writing, I found the plot contrived and poorly explained, and I got too frustrated to try to finish, which is rare for me. Here’s hoping the next book is something I want to finish.