Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who "could go to the good or the bad." 

And indeed, although William Bellman's life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. 

Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife's fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called "Bellman & Black"

Hardcover, 328 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
ebook provided by publisher through netgalley for review

The only reason that I requested this book was because of all the rave reviews for The Thirteenth Tale (which I have yet to read) by the same author.  I began this book with no preconceived ideas about what it was about, other than the fact this was a 'heart-thumping ghost story'.  The writing style was wonderful, the words just flowed so smoothly and for a time I did get lost in the story.

I hope that there aren't going to be any or too many spoilers here, I apologize for that. It was just over half way through this book that I began to wonder where the ghost was, yea there is a guy in black, but it's a guy not a ghost.  Deciding to read the synopsis I discovered that it basically told the plot to about 60% of the way through this book. That's a pet peeve of mine, tell me a little about the book but not everything, leave somethings for the reader to discover for themselves, that's what makes reading enjoyable.

I finished the book waiting for the ghost to show up, for some twist, any kind of satisfing conculsion, but alas it didn't happen.  Disappointing because I really wanted to like this book.  Most likely I will keep The Thirteenth Tale in by TBR pile and give this author another chance.

1 comment:

  1. I think I liked this book mostly because I knew nothing about The Thirteenth Tale and have a habit of totally forgetting about cover copy and blurbs! Heart-thumping? Yeah, not so much. And ghostly in that figuratively "haunted" kind of way. I am curious about The Thirteenth Tale though.