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The Minotaur

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  2,044 Ratings  ·  225 Reviews
Kerstin Kvist, a young nurse fresh out of school has been hired for a position with the Cosway family, residents of the Old Hall in Essex for generations. She is soon introduced to her "charge," John Cosway, a thirty-nine-year-old man whose strange behavior is vaguely explained by his mother and sisters as part of the madness that runs in the family. Bitter wrangling among ...more
Audio CD, Unabridged, 12 pages
Published 2006 by Books on Tape (first published 2005)
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Barbara Vine is a pseudonym for the author Ruth Rendell, and under this nom de plume she publishes novels of psychological suspense. This one, The Minotaur, published in 2005, also has elements of modern Gothic horror. It was possibly written as a homage to traditional Gothic mystery stories.

The story is narrated by a young Swedish woman, Kerstin Kvist, who despite a lack of experience in psychiatric nursing, has decided to take a position as a nurse with the Cosway family at Lydstep Old Hall,
I really had no idea what to read first in 2015. I actually felt like I had the reader's equivalent of writer's block, especially when reading others' blog posts and tweets about how the first book of the year should be some significant, symbolic choice that would set the tone for the year to come. I eventually chose The Minotaur almost randomly while reorganising books on my Kindle, feeling it would strike some balance between the 'light' sort of stuff I actually felt like reading, and my vague ...more
I will start by admitting that I am a shameless Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell fan-girl. If you find me gushing about her books non-stop , please bear with me . Between the ages of 14-16 I was addicted to mysteries by Agatha Christie, P.D James and Elizabeth George. Then I discovered Ruth Rendell and the rest , as they, is history.

Ruth Rendell is one of the best mystery writers around and as Barbara Vine, she can be only described as "deadly" ! All the elements that make a perfect Gothic suspense are
Jess The Bookworm
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kerstin arrives in a little English town to assist a family to care for their mentally ill son/brother. When she arrives, she realises that something is not right. John, the man she is meant to be looking after is not quite what he seems.

What follows is a "modern" day gothic novel set in the 1960s, complete with the old house with secrets, including a labyrinth in the library, and a family that is hiding their true nature.

The title is perhaps a bit misleading, as there is nothing supernatural o
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. I was much influenced by the "reviews" noted on the back cover by other good mystery writers. I will be forewarned next time.
I wanted to like this book also because I am looking for another writer I can read as a series. This won't be one.
The pace is glacial - OK, I get it that she is developing the characters. But she never provided any reason to like or sympathize with anyone in the story, even the main character. Everyone just plods along to the almost inevitable
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Angie
This is my new favorite Barbara Vine novel, and she's my new favorite mystery/thriller/creepy situation author. I listened to this one in the car, and it was read by a woman who did a lovely Swedish accent, but also did terrific, yet subtle voices for the rest of the characters. It's a story that reveals early in the book that there was a "situation" (a bad situation), though you don't know exactly what it is and when it's going to happen. And when it finally does, it's even worse than you'd ima ...more
Stephen Arvidson
A young Swedish nurse, Kerstin (that’s “Shastin”) Kvist, takes a post in an isolated Essex estate in this peculiar tale that’s straight out of an English Gothic novel. Assigned to care for a mathematical prodigy beset by schizophrenia, Kerstin is unnerved by the female inhabitants of Lystep Old Hall and begins to suspect her new charge’s madness is grotesquely rooted in his quartet of neurotic sisters and their strict, scarecrow-esque matriarch.

Among the more worthwhile aspects of Barbara Vine’s
Martine Bailey
A wonderful re-read of a Barbara Vine classic, about a cool-minded, diary-keeping Swedish nurse, Kerstin Kvist, employed to care for John Cosway, an enigmatic, autistic man in his shabby English country house. All the other occupants are classic inhabitants of Vine-country – a family of snobbish, yet oddly vulnerable women who have a vested interest in the status quo of John’s illness being preserved. Enter Felix, a sociopathically vile and egocentric artist whom the daughter of the house falls ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the start I really liked this book. I thought the writing was absolutely phenomenal, top notch character studies that make one understand and appreciate all the praise on the book cover. As I progressed into the book, the reading process became a bit more laborious. I suppose one has to be in that certain BBC sort of mood for this, but the pacing was just so excruciatingly slow. There was this massive build up for a fairly anti climactic and very vague cataclysm and, because of the way the ...more
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Minotaur is a modern Gothic novel -- set in the late sixties, with all the trappings of normality except within the confines of the novel's main setting, Lydstep Old Hall.

Vine sets up a deliciously creepy setting in Lydstep, populated by the not-necessarily-creepy-but-certainly-strange Cosways. We know early on that something terrible happens, but not precisely what. I found that the anticipation of discovering the something terrible was more satisfying than the thing itself; I found the sh
Stephen King recommended author and book. He says: "BEST SUSPENSE NOVELIST (WITH UNDERCURRENTS OF HORROR)
Ruth Rendell, who sometimes writes as Barbara Vine. The Chief Inspector Wexford novels are comfort food that doesn't insult one's intelligence (or upset the stomach); the stand-alones are often quiet masterpieces of terror guaranteed to leave the reader in a cold sweat at 2 a.m. The best example of recent vintage is probably A Sight for Sore Eyes (1999). But The Minotaur, penned under the Bar
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a narrative junkie, so I read a lot of mysteries and SF. Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell is one of my consistent favorites, and The Minotaur doesn't disappoint. In addition to a compelling story, Vine does a wonderful job with atmosphere, conveying a very real sense of "something just ain't right." A quick, absorbing read.
Barbara Vine is the pen name that Ruth Rendell uses when writing psychological thrillers as opposed to the regular who-dunnits. Her Barbara Vine books are more 'why-dunnits' and 'what-was-actually-dun' type novels.

I read the first three Barbara Vine novels years ago, and enjoyed them very much. I read this one because I heard it had a character with Aspergers, and I was curious to see how he would be portrayed.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of a young Swedish woman called Kerstin (pronoun
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The Minotaur by Barbara Vine could best be described as a Gothic-mystery / psychological thriller. Despite a lack of experience in psychiatric nursing, Kerstin Kvist, decided to take a position with the Cosway family at the imposing Virginia creeper-entwined Lydstep Old Hall. John Cosway, her new "charge," is a 39-year-old man man being treated for schizophrenia. He lives in a perpetual drug-induced stupor, with his mother and four sisters.

The family matriarch, Julia Cosway is a tyrannical woma
Connie (Ava Catherine)
Whether writing as Barbara Vine or Ruth Rendell, I truly enjoy this author's voice. She writes psychological thrillers that keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat until the very last page. We as readers are given a deep insight into the characters' psychological make-up that creates a sense of suspense and creepiness. In this book, Vine has lined up a cast of characters that define dysfunctional family. The mother seems to have no love to give her five children, and the four girls are const ...more
Bea Alden
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Barbara Vine is, of course, a nom-de-plume of Ruth Rendell, the finest mystery writer writing today - (in the opinion of many book critics). She has been honored by the Queen for her literary achievements, by being made a peeress, a Baroness with a seat in the House of Lords.

Writing as Barbara Vine, she departs somewhat from the murder mystery plots of her Rendell books, and moves into the realm of psychological suspense. The Minotaur is a story narrated by Kirsten, a young Swedish woman who acc
Aug 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointed in this book, as I've always been a fan of Vine/Rendell. It started off slow and didn't get any better. I must admit that finally, out of frustration, I skipped to the part of the book where the murder occurred. It didn't get any better, but thankfully came to an end. Dull, dark, drab, and depressing.
I will start by admitting that I am a shameless Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell fan-girl. If you find me gushing about her books non-stop , please bear with me . Between the ages of 14-16 I was addicted to mysteries by Agatha Christie, P.D James and Elizabeth George. Then I discovered Ruth Rendell and the rest , as they, is history.

Ruth Rendell is one of the best mystery writers around and as Barbara Vine, she can be only described as "deadly" ! All the elements that make a perfect Gothic suspense are
Tanja Berg
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, kindle
It's been a long time since I've read this sort of story. It's a little difficult to categorize, it's a sort of "who dunnit", but not at all as Ruth Rendell does it in her Wexford mysteries, for example. When writing as "Barbara Vine" her stories are completely different, I would not know they were the same person from the style. I enjoyed the story and I found the narrator, the Swedish nurse Kerstin, endearing and very likeable.

Kerstin comes to England to be close to her boyfriend Mark. She is
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, my-unnormal
I can appreciate this novel as the Mystery/Intrigue it has been categorized. This is not something I believe i would have ever taken the time to read but two asinine prejudgments pulled my decision to dive in:

THE ARTWORK - "cant judge a book by it's cover" is something i have never believed. Publishers have to sell these things and marketing has a job to package a product catchy to the eye as the consumer's bait. I browsed the library shelves and simply liked the way this cover looked. Silly in
May 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Minotaur" is an interesting book about a nurse hired under mysterious circumstances to assist a man living with his oddball, secret-ridden family. The main character is a Swedish girl living in England in the 60s, but she's describing the events in retrospect. This viewpoint added an interesting dimension to the narrative that didn't necessarily affect the plot but was a nice touch. The Cosway sisters gave me almost a "Witches of Eastwick" vibe as their lives were slowly turned upside down ...more
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this as a book on tape, and I suspect if I had read it my rating would just be three stars. (I'm always a more generous listener than reader.) I was trying to find a new mystery writer since P.D. James has grown tiresome for me, but this wasn't really a mystery. This review puts it better than I could: "Twenty years ago, a great storyteller split herself in two: Ruth Rendell moved over to make room for Barbara Vine. As Rendell, she has continued her Inspector Wexford series and add ...more
THE MINOTAUR. (2005). Barbara Vine. **1/2.
This was another psychological mystery from authoress Vine (Ruth Rendell), this time examining the adventures of a young Swedish woman taken on by an English family to serve as a companion to one of the sons of the family. The son – in his thirties – is suffering from a variety of mental problems, and, although under control, needs to be accompanied and helped in a variety of ways. The family is controlled by the mother, who not only protects her son, bu
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, suspense
I again found pleasure and comfort in reading a book by Ruth Rendell, or in this case, her pseudonym, Barbara Vine. I shall never cease to be astounded and amused by her ability to determine the multiple problems which perplex human beings. She did not fail me this time with her chronicle of a provincial family of mad women and their brother. He, it seems, is afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome, but appears to be the most sane of this clan! To add to the intricacy of this tale it takes place in a ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Barbara Vine is insightful and sensitive to the psychology of human behavior, and I especially enjoyed the perspective here, of a young Swedish woman learning about English country life from a family that aren't the best example. Kirstin is hired to supervise John, a realistically depicted autistic man whose family has little understanding or appreciation of him. The library in the family mansion, constructed as a maze in an earlier time, was a special attraction for me. The suspense builds as J ...more
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The narrator of this suspense novel is laconic and wry, and the setup is Victorian through and through (young girl goes to work for a batshit bananas family in a huge creepy house). The money-grubbing, son-destroying mother falls on the wrong side of cliche, but her three daughters are disturbing in novel and believable ways. Vine/Rendell seems most interested in the first three quarters of the novel, when the narrator is puzzling over the family secrets and the violence is still latent. The fin ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book was designed to be character driven rather than plot driven, but there wasn't enough depth to the narrator or the remaining characters for it to really interest me. The inside flap led me to believe that the plot would galvanize the characters, but in fact nothing was galvanized by anything. While the characters could have been compelling, I felt that the author wasted a lot of space telling me the same things over and over again. Could easily have been 100 pages shorter with no detrim ...more
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Dark psychological novel which is set at the end of the 60's in the UK. A young Swedish woman takes up the position of nurse to a man who his family keeps medicated. But she soon questions their reasons for doing so and the diagnosis. Fabulous, dark read which deals with a family who are deeply unsettling. Paced beautifully.
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cherie Blair
Shelves: fiction
I think this novel was supposed to be gothic, creepy, and mysterious. It was none of those things. It simply created a deeply dysfunctional family, a sympathetic narrator (a nurse hired to be in charge of the family's adult son with "schizophrenia," which we find out is merely mistreated Asperger's), some not terribly interesting sexual intrigue, and a not-engrossing murder.
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What's The Name o...: Scandinavian Mystery caretaker of disturbed man [s] 10 41 Jan 21, 2014 09:54AM  
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  • The Lake of Darkness
Pseudonym of Ruth Rendell.

Rendell created a third strand of writing with the publication of A Dark Adapted Eye under her pseudonym Barbara Vine in 1986. Books such as King Solomon's Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Anna's Book (original UK title Asta's Book) inhabit the same territory as her psychological crime novels while they further develop themes of family misunderstandings and the side effects
More about Barbara Vine...

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