Carol S. (Pawleys Island, SC)
No mystery here
I have to say that I loved "Thirteenth Tale" but only liked this book.
Setterfield's writing is excellent and I enjoyed the first half of the novel. The rest of the book dragged for me. I found it rather contrived that William Bellman should pay such a steep price for the incident from his childhood. The punishment doesn't fit the crime.
Terri O. (Chapel Hill, NC)
Well written but ultimately disappointing
There is no denying that Diane Setterfield is a good writer. Her prose is eloquent and atmospheric, and she does a good job in Bellman & Black of bringing Victorian England to life. Unfortunately, I found the characters to be largely flat and uninteresting, and the entire plot hinged on a childhood event that seemed too inconsequential to bear the weight of future events. The first part of the book held my interest but then the plot flagged and my interest along with it. In addition, I thought the ending was abrupt and unsatisfying. I expected that there would be more to the childhood story on which the plot hinged and that the revelation of the additional details would explain the plot satisfactorily, but unfortunately no further details were forthcoming. I can't say that I would recommend this book to anyone.
Kelly P. (Monterey, TN)
Why is this marketed as a ghost story?
The book is written with well-chosen words and descriptive passages evoking the industrial age in England. However, these passages do not tell a ghost story as promised by the jacket and cover blurbs. Instead we get a story of a man haunted by an internal demon, the memory of an event from his childhood. I enjoyed the book because of the author's narrative skill and the time period. I left it though with the lingering impression that she had an interesting idea for a tale but tried too hard to force it into the gothic supernatural category while forgetting to include the actual supernatural element.
Laurel G. (Pacific Palisades, CA)
A very black book
I'm not sure I would recommend the book, although I enjoyed reading it, for the most part. I was somewhat disappointed in the second half of the book and its predictability. I like books that are descriptive and this one was.
Teresa R. (Evansville, IN)
Well written, but lacking
The story immediately drew me in... but about half-way through the book, it started to really falter in terms of character development and plot. The book was well written but very dark and lost steam about half-way through. I also wouldn't call it a ghost story. Liked this authors' previous work much better
Lorraine R. (Southampton, NY)
Bellman and Black
Diane Setterfield has written another darkly Gothic novel in which the protagonist, William Bellman enters into a partnership with a phantom stranger, Black. The set of circumstances he encounters are haunted by a childhood game in which he kills a rook. The author weaves the symbolism of the rook into the tale of Bellman's fortunes and misfortunes. A fascinating story.
Elise B. (Macedonia, OH)
Bellman and Black
Fans of historical fiction will be much more likely to enjoy Bellman and Black than a reader looking for a good ghost story. The story moves slowly through a man's life and his experiences of handling great tragedies in his life while still managing to be a highly successful businessman. There is the occasional facts about rooks thrown in and some dealings with a "Mr. Black" which attempt suspense, but, in my opinion, fail.