by Kate Mosse


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Labyrinth-"a rich brew of supernaturalism and intrigue."(Kirkus Reviews)

In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother arrive at the home of their widowed aunt in Rennes-le-Bains, in southwest France. But nothing is as Léonie had imagined. Their aunt is young, willowy, and beautiful, and the estate is a subject of local superstition. Villagers claim that Léonie's late uncle died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre on its grounds...

More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in Rennes-le- Bains while researching the life of Claude Debussy. Haunted by a Tarot reading she had in Paris-and possessing the mysterious deck of cards-she checks into a grand old hotel built on the site of a famous mountain estate destroyed by fire in 1896. There, the pack of Tarot cards and a piece of 19th-century music known as Sepulchre 1891 hold the key to her fate-just as they did to the fate of Léonie Vernier.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425225844
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 238,827
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kate Mosse is the author of the New York Times bestselling Labyrinth and Sepulchre and the Co-founder and Honorary Director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in England and France.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Undeniably gripping."
-The London Paper

"History and mystery are engagingly blended."
-Kirkus Reviews

"Ghosts, duels, murders, ill-fated love and conspiracy...addictively readable."
-Daily Mail

"This adventure will keep you engrossed."
-Eve Magazine (Britain)

"A sure, deft momentum...the secrets begin to slip out thick and fast."
-Daily Express

"Try this if you enjoyed The Da Vinci Code but fancy something a bit more meaty."
-News of the World

"A page-turning saga of fin-de-siFcle spiritualism and Visigothic treasure."
-Art & Book Review

"Mosse does what good popular historical novelists do best-make the past enticingly otherworldly, while also claiming it as our own."
-The Independent

Reading Group Guide

In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother arrive at the home of their widowed aunt in Rennes-le-Bains, in southwest France. But nothing is as Léonie had imagined. Their aunt is young, willowy, and beautiful, and the estate is a subject of local superstition. Villagers claim that Léonie’s late uncle died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre on its grounds…

More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in Rennes-le- Bains while researching the life of Claude Debussy. Haunted by a Tarot reading she had in Paris—and possessing the mysterious deck of cards—she checks into a grand old hotel built on the site of a famous mountain estate destroyed by fire in 1896. There, the pack of Tarot cards and a piece of 19th-century music known as Sepulchre 1891 hold the key to her fate—just as they did to the fate of Léonie Vernier.


Kate Mosse is the author of The New York Times-bestseller Labyrinth. She is also Co-founder and Honorary Director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, which annually celebrates and promotes the best works of fiction written by women throughout the world.

A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Ms. Mosse was named European Woman of Achievement for her contribution to the arts in 2000. She is also a highly regarded television and radio presenter, having been at the helm of BBC Four’s flagship "Readers and Writer Roadshow" and BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review. She divides her time between Sussex, England and Carcassonne, France.

  • The story opens with a riot at the Palais Garnier opera house. Why do you think the author chose to begin the story with this incident? What thematic or other connection does it have to the rest of the story?
  • Consider the characters of Léonie and Meredith. How is each woman shaped by the era in which she lives? Do you think the story would have gone differently if their places were reversed, and Meredith had been in born the eighteenth century and Léonie in the twentieth?
  • Claude Debussy is a presence throughout the book, yet he never appears in person. What is the symbolic importance of his presence in the story? More broadly, what thematic role does music play in the novel?
  • Victor Constant commits a series of murders in order to convince the people of Rennes-les-Bains that the demon who terrorized the town in Jules Lascombe’s time has returned. Do you believe that these earlier attacks were genuinely the work of the demon? Or does the demon always work through the hands of men?
  • It appears that Audric Baillard is much older than he seems. What secrets do you think he is hiding? Is it more than a coincidence that he died in the presence of Shelagh O’Donnell, who then plays an important part in revealing Julian Lawrence’s crime? What do you think he was looking for in the Sabarthès mountains?
  • Did you find Anatole’s decision to face Victor in the duel heroic or foolish? How is this decision indicative of his character? Are there flaws in that character that made his fate inevitable?
  • Victor Constant, Julian Lawrence, and the demon Asmodeus are all described as having the same penetrating blue eyes. What is the significance of this? Is it possible that, as with Meredith Martin and Léonie Vernier, there is a blood connection between them?
  • By the end of the novel, we have learned that the story we have just read was written by Meredith Martin. Does this alter your view of the story in any way?
  • Customer Reviews

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    Sepulchre 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
    harstan More than 1 year ago
    In 1891 siblings Leonie and Anatole Vernier leave Paris to visit their Tante Isolde at her Domain de la Cade estate in the mountainous south France. At her widow aunt¿s place, Leonie overhears the villagers¿ whispers of the devil¿s abode and finds an interesting journal in which her late uncle studied the occult and mentions a special tarot card deck and a Visigoth tomb. Fascinated the teen searches for both while unknown to her someone wants to kill her and her loved ones while she begins to worriedly wonder why her Tante invited them.----------- In 2008 biographer Meredith Martin seeks to complete her latest book on renowned French composer Debussy when she finds a replica of the tarot cards that Leonie sought. What is frightening is that some of the cards contain pictures that eerily look like her. She makes inquiries which lead her to Domain de la Cade converted to a hotel yet like over a century ago hosts a battle between the forces of good and evil.---------- Although too many passive sidebar discussions slow down the overall plot, fans will enjoy this interesting horror thriller as the good vs. evil war occurs twice due to the linking tarot cards. Readers will feel the changes in outlook of the lead females of each era as they start off with youthful enthusiastic curiosity that changes to outright fear their identical reactions make for a fine but cluttered thriller.----------- Harriet Klausner
    ladyhawke28 More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed this book as much as Labyrinth. I think her character development is strong, although she does a better job getting you involved in her characters from the past then she does the present. There were a few details that were not really clear to me, such as what had really gone on in the Sepulchre and how the tarot cards are actually changing events in the characters' lives. If you know about tarot cards this definitely makes it easier, but Mosse probably could've explained this in the story a bit better. Still, it is a good book and I would recommend it.
    bukwormHB More than 1 year ago
    In Sepulchre, Kate Mosse uses a similar formula as Labyrinth. She blends past and present seamlessly, running parallel story lines that intersect. Detailed imagery and strong characters draw the reader in late 19th century rural and modern day France. Sepulchre combines multiple genres and will appeal to any who enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and historical novels. I encourage anyone to give this author a read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Kate Mosse's "Labyrinth" was excellent. "Sepulchre" follows the same formula with less vibrant characters. I still recommend it for its authentic images of France. It's good light reading - anything that takes us away from current affairs and into the south of France is good escapism!
    emmi331 More than 1 year ago
    Author Kate Mosse hit on a winning formula in her previous novel, Labyrinth. Two women in different centuries are involved in a "secret" with supernatural overtones. Regrettably, repeating that formula in this book makes it predictable and lacking in real originality. I actually put the book down shortly after starting the story line involving the 21st century; this also happened with Labyrinth, sad to say. Ms. Mosse is a compelling writer and tells a good tale (if repetitive by the second book), but her characters just don't grab me. Her women, while independent and educated, somehow lack depth. And why does she, along with so many other authors, feel that the female leading character has validation only if she is drop-dead beautiful? To be honest, I've never met anyone with "emerald-green eyes", unless the individual was wearing colorful contact lenses....which to my knowledge, did not exist in 1891!
    Oneira More than 1 year ago
    My favorite aspects were the mystical nature of the tarot and the spiritual reverberations associated with certain places. The characters were great too. I especially like Leonie, quite rightly named since her tarot card Strength has a lion on it (Leo). The historical aspect was fascinating too, though I think that it was more for the spiritual associations with ancient places than anything else (in this case: Visigoth). Amazing book with many different elements (mystery, archaeology, supernatural, love, friendship, good vs. evil, etc.).
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This is a great example of how a good writer can blend the timeline so that the reader has a very clear picture of how it was and how it is now. Kate Mosse leaves little to the reader's imagination, which has some drawbacks, but her writing is excellent, imaginative and very engaging.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    A great read!!! Historical,romantic with a touch of mystery...Ms Mosse has done a wonderful job to make the reader feel as though you were in Paris and the South of France in the 1800's and heart ached for the main characters...I did not want the novel to end!! Loved the intrigue of the Tarot!!Exquise!!!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I picked this book up on a visit to the UK in January 08, and am so glad I did. Mosse is an outstanding writer who is able to draw you into the world she created - shifting between then & now. Superb plot, well fleshed out characters, a must buy. I am now working backwards and have just bought Labyrinth which I wait to start with anticipation. Enfin.... at last!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I happened upon this book at a yard sale for 50¿. I enjoyed it so much, I'll end up getting it for my Nook so I can read it on the go. I found it was very well written and, yes, the skipping back and forth in time is a little confusing, but it is definitely worth finishing.
    illshowyou More than 1 year ago
    This book wasn't bad; I just expected more. It could be that the person who recommended it made me think that it was going to be more interesting than it was. I did not really like the skipping back and forth between present day and the late 1800's. It didn't really work for the novel, in my opinion. The dependency on tarot cards to complete the story didn't make much sense or a very interesting plot either. Typically, I love historical fiction. This one just did not float my boat.
    Teach1831 More than 1 year ago
    loved the plot of this story, however i felt it could have been a little shorter. i started to get a bit bored. i will say that i loved the story line of the past story more so than the present day story.
    ghntgrl More than 1 year ago
    I truly enjoyed reading this book. I'd previously read Labyrinth, and I liked this one just as much as the first. The tales of the two women are woven together quite well and creates a great deal of suspense. I couldn't wait to get to the end and when I did I was sad to let it go!
    J3nnif3r8 More than 1 year ago
    I literally just finished the book and I am sad to leave the Domaine de la Cade and Leonie Vernier. The characters is this thrilling novel easily pull at your heart. At first I thought the novel would be hard to follow because of the two separate timelines, but then I loved reading Leonie's story and Meredith's story and their relationship with each other. My only complaint is the final section, I feel it could have been left out and the book could have ended with Leonie and Hal leaving the Domaine de la Cade. I loved this book so much I bought Mosse's first book yesterday. Her writing style is very easy to read. I found myself reading seventy plus pages in a single sitting before even glancing at the clock. Beautifully done!
    lyra_hp More than 1 year ago
    This book is definitely a very interesting read. The characters are wonderful and get your attention from the beginning. I love how it is written in two time periods; the moment you get really into one period, it switches back to the other and leaves you extremely curious. I loved this book; my only complaint is that I feel the end is a little rushed. Other than that, great read. I love the historical elements.
    KatyScarlettDT More than 1 year ago
    Kate Mosse's second book Sepulchre is almost, as good as her first book Labyrinth. It is definitely a good read but I prefer her earlier book. This novel takes place in two time periods which, if you read Labyrinth, you will notice that it is her typical style. The first time period that we encounter is 1891 where we meet Leonie Vernier and her brother. Leonie is soon sent to live with her aunt but she has many foreboding feelings when she meets some of the villagers who claim that long her late uncle died after summoning a demon from the sepulchre on her aunts grounds. Parallel to this story we meet Meredith who gets a terrifying tarot card reading in which she is given a key to her fate, the music known as Sepulchre 1891. As we watch these two girls lives intertwine we get caught up in the story and are never able to put it down.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Kate Mosse is a superb writer. I loved 'Labyrinth'. I must admit, however, that it was the endpapers in 'Sepulchre' that pulled me in. Readers will be thrilled with the intertwined stories of fin de siecle lovers and mysterious twenty-first century family ties. Still, it is the tantalizing Bousquet-Vernier Tarot that will intrique cartomancers of all levels.
    Breephira on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    There was to much unexplained French in this book. If you can't read or understand french it doesn't make for enjoyable reading.I liked the two main characters and found it easy to get involved with them.I didn't like the family secrets and how they kept dismissing the bad guy as if he wasn't going to bother them or find them again.I didn't like the deaths in it.There are good parts. I skimmed over the descriptions of the areas a lot of times as they went on to long.
    labfs39 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I was disappointed in this book after being so entertained by Mosse's first book, Labyrinth. Less historical, more gothic, Sepulchre was slow moving until near the end of the book, and the characters were weakly drawn. I disagree with the LOC subject heading of time travel. Overall rather dull, despite the periodic violence.
    alana_leigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Have you ever heard/read of the word "juddered"? Not jetted, not jarred, not shuddered... "juddered." Used in the context of this novel (and it was used twice), it was something like "juddered to a halt." Now... I've never seen this word before, but it certainly made me *judder* to a halt. Though suggests "judder" means "to vibrate violently," which means I'm not quite sure it means what Mosse wanted it to mean, but if anyone has more info on this, please pass it along. I am totally willing to have my vocabulary expanded.But why do I mention this as the first point in my review of Sepulchre? Well, not because Mosse's writing is jarring or because it makes me slam on the brakes and quickly end something. It's more because both Mosse novels have let me go along for a while, but then ultimately caused me to tilt my head and ask if perhaps we couldn't have had one more pass with an editor, because a few things could use some review and tightening up.Don't get me wrong, clearly I enjoy Mosse's novels. I sought this one out as soon as I found it in paperback and I know that I'll read whatever else she writes. The best part of a Moss novel is the beginning... as you meet the characters, ease into the story, and start absorbing the time period. Kate Mosse writes quite well as a historical fiction novelist. Note: I actually do mean a historical fiction novelist here, not a historical romance novelist, as so many female historical writers seem to be these days if there's any hint of romance in the book. And I also want to point out that she is, indeed, a novelist, in the sense that her plot line takes precedence. Mosse clearly does her research when she invests herself in a time period and she's in love with the south of France, which you can also tell from her descriptions of the country. Mosse crafts intricate plot lines, embellishes with beautiful historic detail, and conjures likable characters (though her modern characters are not always quite as fleshed out as the period characters, and they often feel too full of the echoes of the past to have enough personality of their own). But ultimately, it's this ability that makes me expect a little more from her when we keep moving through the novel. These books are suffused with suspense and tinged with the supernatural, but about two thirds through Sepulchre (and, for that matter, Labyrinth), I set the book down with a sigh because I was getting a little tired of the build-up to an ending which I'd already figured out. I won't give anything away, but trust me, you'll figure it out long before the book gets there.If you have read Labyrinth, then Sepulchre's format will seem familiar with the dual plotline format. (Indeed, even a few characters will be familiar to you.) In the late nineteenth century, a brother and sister have traveled from Paris to visit their aunt in a small town outside of Carcassonne. This aunt has inherited her husband's estate upon his death, a house that has a great many dark and mysterious legends surrounding it. Here we have secret lovers, murder, feigned deaths, desperate attempts to flee evil villains, duels, and dabblings in the occult. In the twenty-first century, we have a young woman who is trying to finish a book on Debussy and, while she's at it, piece together some family history of her own. Here we have the beginnings of a romance, murder, a not-quite-evil-but-mostly-just-led-astray villain, and some more tame dabblings in the occult. Unsurprisingly, these times are tied together and the modern era's quest to discover what happened in the past will also attempt to right any wrongs leftover.Ultimately, I would say that as long as you're not expecting too much of this novel and you enjoy period novels, then there's a high chance that you'll be pleased with this. Mosse clearly has the researcher's need for detail and that always makes me feel like we're starting on the right foot, but something still needs to come to
    vernefan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    ¿The Devil in a French Duet¿Sepulchre shuffles a Tarot deck and deals us out a rather haunting and mysterious gothic French duet that alternates chapters from 1891 to the present, with two striking heroines that prove both to be mademoiselle¿s in distress for the entire 572 pages of this incredible historical thriller. Victorian Paris gives us Leonie, and her dashing brother Anatole, journeying to France¿s beautiful countryside at the invitation of an aunt they barely know, or at least this is how it is at first perceived. Anatole running from a smeared reputation and a rival for his lover, and Leonie curious about her family heritage as well as the mystery surrounding the country house of Domaine de la Cade that her mother has always feared , both find themselves shrouded in thick macabre scenarios equaled to that penned by Edgar Allen Poe. Settling in, Leonie explores the sequestered library uncovering a tiny book written by her uncle on the Occult and a bizarre deck of Tarot Cards. Exquisite illustrations and unusual passages have Leonie puzzled as to why her uncle was dabbling in such forbidden arts. With both siblings sneaking behind each other¿s backs and immersing themselves in diabolical mischief and murder, the reader quickly gets sucked into pure gothic suspense that you just can¿t put down. In the present, Meredith Martin is writing a biography of Achille-Claude DeBussy the famous opera composer. She is also on holiday in France researching his link to the 19th century home of Domaine de la Cade. Before arriving, as a last minute whim, Meredith visits a Tarot reader. Although she has always believed this art of seeing what the future holds stuff and nonsense, she leaves the fortune-teller quite startled and with a sense of unease and foreboding. As she traverses the Languedoc area of France making notes for her book, she is being followed by a man obsessed and gets involved in a family plot of hidden agendas and a murder steeped in mystery that involves Anatole and Leonie in the past. Characters are not always whom they appear to be, and the author masterfully injects huge dollops of terror and mystifying conundrums that surprise and shock the reader as each chapter unfolds. Malevolent beings roam the wilderness, tarot cards evoke the spirits, a crazed rejected lover is hell-bent on revenge, and a plot that thickens into a quagmire of seductive suspense, will have you up all night listening for footsteps outside your bedroom door. Two girls of overlapping fates with a century between them are in over their heads digging for answers and finding their lives at stake as two twisted masterminds, present and past, are on the loose tracking them for their own quests of power and retribution. This novel swirls us up into a tornado of edge-of-your-seat chills and thrills while the shadows within Domaine de la Cade wreak havoc causing it¿s inhabitants to fitfully sleep and wake screaming of clawing beasts and impending danger. I found Sepulchre to be one of the most well written historical mysteries I¿ve read in years. The author¿s first blockbuster Labyrinth was fabulous as well, but this far exceeded my expectations not believing she could outdo herself after that first fine debut. The book is long but worth every phrase, passage, and page, as it is so finely crafted and well researched with a blend of history and real-life characters that come alive on the paper you hold.
    indygo88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    My experience with this novel was very similar to that of Mosse's "Labyrinth". Again, the cover was for some reason very appealing, as was the description of the book. But once again, the potential was there & yet I didn't feel like it carried through. Had the story been about 1/2 or 1/3 the length that it ended up being, I think it would've been just as effective, and maybe more so. Ultimately, there was too much filler and not enough culminated action. I kept waiting for the big climax (again, I thought the potential was there & the set-up was fairly good), but I was just disappointed overall. Will I look for Mosse's next novel? Probably, because I'm a sucker, but if you were disappointed in "Labyrinth", you'll likely feel something similar with this one.
    sianlvslibraries on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    After having read Labyrinth I had to read this, and was not disappointed!
    AMS_musicology on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    "I read it a couple of years ago on holiday, and almost lost the will to live. Can't recommend it, I'm afraid. As I recall, the musicologist heroine is writing about Debussy, but this is just one of dozens of plotlines that just fizzle out into thin air..."
    Aerrin99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Started out slow. Picked up briefly in the middle. Then inexplicably slowed down again, only to rush the resolution so much that I actually flipped back to see whether I'd missed it. This book had a lot of promise - the premise is awesome, the characters interesting and engaging, but nothing ever really comes of it. Not a bad read, but disappointing given what it felt like it could have been with a little more effort toward plot.