Mosaic - by Catherine McCarthy
Catherine McCarthy has long been an Auto-buy reader for me, having read eight of her books/ novellas/ short stories-in-anthologies or her collections, and being proven time and time again that her voice, whatever the scenario, whatever the horror, is going to provide.
So too with Mosaic.
Now, I have noticed a “theme” running through the last couple of offerings I’ve read from Catherine. Starting with her Immortelle, published two years ago, through to Mosaic and on into A Moonlit Path of Madness – which I will review tomorrow. In the three respective books, McCarthy’s focus lands on a gothic skill, a trade, a backstory, which she researches and goes into depth describing, which serves as the meat of the story, against which lies a mystery of a horror that can be overcome/battled/accepted through knowledge gained through the practice of that aforementioned skill/trade/backstory.
In Immortelle, it was the construction of grave markers. In A moonlit path of Madness, it is house restoration and clock restoration. In Mosaic, it is stained glass window restoration.
Catherine’s voice here demands to be heard. Her prose, her knowledge of the skill in hand, and her enthusiasm to build realistic characters and flesh them out in believability carry each story. I wanted time before I committed myself to a review about Mosaic because I wanted to think over the implications of the ending of the story (no spoilers here, don’t worry), and because of my theory regarding the similarities of the three books, despite them having very different stories – that core fundament the passion which McCarthy brings to illustrating a “lost” art form, or a dying profession, or an illustration of regained identity – being the thread that binds them together.
Mosaic was gripping. It reads very much like a cozy mystery, with a splash of horror. You aren’t going to be hiding behind the sofa whilst reading Mosaic, but you are going to want to go out and watch someone reconstruct a stained-glass window, albeit with one eye on the floor for intrusive tongues...
The enthusiasm for the skill required here brims over from the page. In the same way, you can (occasionally) watch a program like The Antique's Roadshow, and are compelled to listen to an expert fanboy all over a particular example of their favorite sculptor's previously unknown sketchbook – the joy here is the story itself and the absolute passion of the storyteller. You kind of feel educated simply by being in her world. That McCarthy has researched her given project shines through the pages, and makes the reading a lesson in whatever she chooses to present. Here, stained glass window restoration. Who’d have thought it could be so gripping?
The three stories also present a change in the endings of McCarthy’s books, with Catherine embracing the other side of storytelling, where everything is not hopeful at the end of the day; where characters can succumb to temptation and embrace their dark side; where good does not always win outright; where there must not always be a happy ever after. It is a step further down the dark road that horror promises its reader, and we are dragged into that horrific twilight along with her characters. There is a feeling of inevitability that is cultivated throughout the second half of this book, which leads you to where it was always going to go, no matter our hopes for the main character.
Dark Hart indeed.
This is a solid 5 ⭐ ‘s read, the pages fly past, and you feel educated, thrilled, entertained, and (for me, with the ending) justified in your belief in the inevitable conclusion of the story. This is a solid entry in the Dark Hart library.
My thanks to both Sadie Hartmann, Dark Hart books, and Catherine McCarthy for the ARC. My honest review is given freely and is in no way biased.
You can buy Mosaic by clicking the Dark Heart Preorder link (the logo), below:
You can visit Catherine's website, HERE.
You can follow Catherine on Twitter, HERE.
You can follow Catherine on Instagram, HERE.
You can follow Catherine's Substack, HERE.