Monday, September 30, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield


Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget...

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born - goodreads

(received by netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

The novel is about William Bellman. As a child playing around with his friends, he bets that he can hit a rook with his slingshot. Amazingly he did and that little action is the consequence for the rest of his life.

William is very determined and is one of those guys that whatever he does he puts his heart and soul into it and it turns to a very profitable business. With a series of very unfortunate events and seeing this figure dressed in black from time to time, as well as everyone he knows seems to dies William enters a very strange business deal-  Bellman and Black . Bellman and Black is basically a store that sells and take care of all funeral arrangements.   

I wanted to like this more than I did. I rated this 3 stars because of that. Throughout the book, while it was an interesting premise and I wanted to keep reading, I kept thinking... is this it? With such a great first part, I felt the later fell short. I didn't find it eery as so many people have been commenting on. I didn't think it was this was a ghost story either. I get why some would say that...but maybe I missed something.

I think I didn't like that we knew nothing of "Mr. Black". Yet, we knew everything about William, his family, the mill business, but nothing of substance of Black Why was he 'haunting' William. What was the point. Was he the incarnation of the rook that William killed in his childhood? So many questions, but no answers were really given?  The reasons for the partnership didn't even really matter in the end either.

That being said, Diane Setterfield has great writing skills. And I think that is why I kept reading. She draws you in and describes characters and scenes beautifully.  I mean, I could run a dye mill with all her details. She also uses the rook as an analogy throughout the entire story, which ties in the theme.
From reading this, I will definitely put The Thirteenth Tale higher up on my to read list.

And to think one little outing with friends turns out to be a defining feature in the rest of your life...

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