'Labyrinth' (Illustrated Edition) By Kate Mosse , London: Orion, 2006. ISBN 0 75287 618 X 544pp. (hardback) £20.00

In this adventure-cum-mystery story, the author deftly handles what could have been difficult transitions between two time zones,the 13th century and the present day.The former is provided with well- researched historical detail which gives added depth and a real sense of place to the tale.

Beginnings are always important and, even before the narrative takes off with an intriguing discovery, we are provided with a fascinating author's introduction which explains the genesis of the novel and the spell cast over her by the area around Carcassonne in South West France. This affection for the landscape is allied to a real passion for, in particular, the two resourceful and independent-minded heroines and a poignant evocation of the crushing of the Cathar 'heresy'.

The illustrations in the luxury edition largely help the sense of place mentioned earlier while the Occitan proverbs, used as chapter endings for both 'time zones' help to bind past and present together and reinforce one of the book's central themes, namely the enduring power of love.

Two minor quibbles: the decision to group the translations of the proverbs at the end of the book creates rather too much page turning, when a footnote translation would have avoided this.Also, the proverbs are used randomly-some could surely have been placed at more appropriate points (for example, the proverb on page 202 neatly fits the end of chapter 72).

I thoroughly recommend Labyrinth,which has more heart and soul than Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and I look forward, as will many, to doing the Labyrinth Walk in Carcassonne, using the guide helpfully provided by the author!

'Labyrinth' is published by Orion Books.

Orion Books website