Bellman & Black - Diane Setterfield

Having read The Thirteenth Tale, I was excited when NetGalley offered Setterfield’s  latest novel as a kindle ARC. I hadn’t had a chance to read it yet when my husband surprised me with a beautiful hardcover copy for Christmas. He just knew it would be something I’d like – so yes, I probably need to tell him more about my NetGalley books…


In any case, there is something undeniably alluring about a crisp new book, and this one called my name on Christmas, after everyone was safely tucked in bed. If I had to judge a book by its cover (and I do, all the time), this one would definitely be a winner, much like her last book. When I started reading it, I was once again drawn into a beautifully told Victorian tale. I loved the characters, despite what seemed like several improbable storylines.


The biggest problem I had with the book had less to do with the actual story, than with what the blurb about it promised, and what the book actually delivered. The book is described as “a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story.” Now, to be perfectly honest, I did not choose it because of this, and truly, I would have read it even if it had a different blurb and a less dramatic cover. But when I was reading it, I expected a ghost, at the very least. To be fair, there is a ghost in this book, but, to me, he played a minor role in the plot, and there was very little suspense involved in his appearances. So, no — not really a ghost story. I love historical fiction, and, in that respect, this book delivered all that I expected. I have all kinds of excellent trivia now: about rooks, running a textile mill, and more than I might have thought about opening a very large emporium devoted entirely to mourning. Wow! They took their mourning very seriously back then; I never even heard of “quarter mourning” — talk about 50 shades of grey!


In the end, if you love a good story well told, you will not be disappointed. You may even find yourself, like me, reading into the wee hours of the morning, until the last page has been read, and that one (not very scary) ghost has finally been laid to rest.