Book Review – City of Tears (The Burning Chambers #2) by Kate Mosse

First published, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

An epic story about faith and loss, The City of Tears follows Minou and Piet during the approach of a French Royal wedding, intended to unite the Catholic and Huguenot faiths who have, hitherto, been determined to tear each other apart. But as the uncomfortable civility begins to fracture, and the violence and devastation of mob mentality rends Paris asunder in the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Minou and Piet discover, to their horror, that their firecracker of a daughter, seven-year-old Marta, has gone on an adventure through the bloodied streets of the Capital.

In all the mayhem, the press of bodies and the danger posed to the two of them, their baby son, and the elderly aunt who’s travelled with them from the French countryside for the historic wedding, the parents have no choice. After two days of searching, they have to leave Paris and spend the ensuing years wondering about their daughter from their new home in Amsterdam.

But Piet’s arch nemesis, Cardinal Valentin, is also in Paris, seeking artefacts and a way out of the employ of the Duke of Guise.

The ending made me wonder how people always seem to glimpse the last person they would ever want to see – at Royal weddings. Remind me never to go to one.

A tightly written epic, covering hundreds of years and hundreds of miles, I was surprised I was able to keep up with all the characters. At the beginning of the book, there’s a list of the Dramatis Personae – something which usually sets off alarm bells in my head because I’ll surely never remember who these people are – but the characters were so crisply written and the story so engaging, I had no trouble at all. And I loved the violent attention to detail. For example:

“A moment of stillness was broken by the rasp of a sword drawn from its sheath and a flash of steel as the blade slid in. The pastor’s eyes widened in surprise. He looked down, saw the hilt protruding from his belly and felt warm blood soaking his black robes. Then, the suck of the blade being pulled free in a slither of flesh and guts. Only then did the pain hit him and he staggered back.”
p221, Chapter 42, City of Tears (The Burning Chambers #2) by Kate Mosse