The Lost Entwife, October 15, 2013 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
I think I may be one of the few in the book blogging community who hasn't read Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale - but I've heard of it so I went into Bellman & Black with high expectations. I mean, people have gushed quite a bit over Setterfield's storytelling ability so surely I would at least come away with a good tale. You will be glad to hear that I wasn't disappointed. It was a great story with only a few nit-picky things that I struggled with.
Bellman & Black is marketed as a ghost story - but I found it to be less of a ghost story and more of a mysterious, gothic story that involved some pretty freaky things. Not freaky as in I AM A CLOWN AND IN YOUR FACE type of freaky, but more subtle, hair on the back of your neck raising, kind of freaky. And it's important to know that the beginning of the book sets the tone. There's one action at the start of the book - the killing of a rook (it's in the summary! No spoilers, promise), and that figures into the entire story. Everything is set on a pin, it could go one way or another... so which way does it go?
Bellman & Black is really two stories. The first is the good, the second the bad. Things go well, and then they don't... or do they? That's the mystery of the thing. And tied into it all is the interesting factoids about rooks. But again, are those good facts or bad? It's with the rooks that I felt a bit as if I was missing something; that maybe I was supposed to be seeing something that just wasn't being made obvious.
But through it all, Setterfield's words are beautiful things. The story progresses slowly, but extremely well, and I always wanted to pick up the book and read more as I went about my daily activities. I understand why people are so in love with her style, as it's very quietly addicting. I think I may have to go check out The Thirteenth Tale now and see what all the buzz is about.
Karen Rush, October 9, 2013 (view all comments by Karen Rush)
The second book by author Diane Setterfield, written 7 years after her bestseller The Thirteenth Tale, is a gothic and dark one. It is a clever story; one that starts off slowly but gradually builds with grief and loss along the way. An interesting mystery including giant black rooks/crows and a mysterious man in black, I was expecting more surprises, scares, and spookiness in what is being touted as a ghost story. After finishing the novel and rethinking ‘ghost story’, I believe that aspect may have more to do with main character William Bellman being haunted by his decisions and regrets throughout the novel, beginning with an event early on when as a boy showing off to other boys, throws a stone at a rook, never really meaning to hit it but he meets his mark and the bird dies. This thought haunts him throughout his life.(less)
Laurie Blum, August 21, 2013 (view all comments by Laurie Blum)
I'm not sure it was worth waiting seven years for Diane Setterfield to write a new novel, no less a ghost story ... in her Bellman & Black, a coming-of-age tale, we meet young William Bellman as a boy & follow his colorful life through adulthood. This talented author has created a well researched story filled with vivid Victorian detail, a touch of fantasy, too much gothic horror and more than the average person needs to know about crows, ravens & rooks. "The Thirteenth Tale" is still my favorite!
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale comes a dark and mesmerizing ghost story guaranteed to haunt you to your very core.
As a boy, William Bellman commits one small, cruel act: killing a bird with his slingshot. Little does he know the unforeseen and terrible consequences of the deed, which is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to be a man blessed by fortune — until tragedy strikes and the stranger in black comes. Then he starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, William enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.
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