Thursday, 20 November 2014

Review | Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

by Diane Setterfield

My Rating: 

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.

And Bellman & Black is born.

This is a tough book to review.

I love historical fiction. If someone held a gun to my head and told me to pick a favourite genre then that would be it, and when I stumbled across Bellman & Black a couple of months ago I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

If you're a fan of fast-paced, action-packed, nail-biting, terrifying stories, then this book isn't for you. I don't mind a slow read; in fact some of my favourite books are slow reads and I love how beautifully they unfold and how they tease you with their hidden knowledge. This book is definitely a slow read, though it didn't take me all that long to read it and I don't think anyone who is a fan of slow reads will find it taking up too much of their time, either.

If you're a fan of Victorian Gothic, then I think you will enjoy this book. Ultimately this book is a family saga, revolving around William Bellman, that is hiding a very subtle ghost story. Although whether or not it's really a ghost story is certainly up for debate. Once you claim something is a ghost story then I think most readers expect something like The Haunting of Hill House or The Woman in Black , but this story isn't like either of those.

The biggest problem with the novel is its lack of explanation. For the most part I quite liked that about it, but I would have liked some more clarity in certain areas of the plot. That being said, the entire novel was written in the most gorgeous style so it was still a joy to read.

Basically if you're looking for a story that's going to go 'boo!' then this isn't the story for you, but if you like the kind of stories that leave you feeling uneasy for reasons that you can't identify I'd recommend giving Bellman & Black a try!

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