{Review} Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield


FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Atria Books (via NetGalley).
{Review} Bellman & Black by Diane SetterfieldBellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria Books on October 10, 2013
Genre(s): Supernatural Suspense (Adult)
Pages: 328

Our Rating

1.5 Stars

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"


I know what the summary tells you what this story is supposed to be about, however after reading it I can say that this book is mostly about the textile industry in the 1800s and how successful this man made this family business. I was pretty disappointed because it sounds like a creepy ghost story and who doesn’t like a good ghost story?

This was definitely not a creepy ghost story. The ghost part of the story doesn’t start until halfway through the book and by that time I was skimming.

When William Bellman was ten years old, he shot a rook with a slingshot and killed it. This rook was a descendent of Odin’s crows and this led to William being cursed. Only he doesn’t know it. He actually grows up and has an amazing life.

He’s a pretty great guy actually; smart, handsome and hardworking. Even though he is an outcast from the Bellman family, his uncle takes him under his wing and he is on his way to owning the Bellman family mill.

One problem, everyone around him dies. One by one his family and friends start to die in (generally) sudden ways. Most of the time he doesn’t think anything of it because the cans death can be years apart and aren’t entirely unexplainable. But then there is a sickness and he quickly loses all his children, save one, and his wife within weeks of each other. When his last surviving child is on the brink of death, he makes a deal with a mysterious stranger to save her.

And that folks…is all she wrote.

Okay not really but it felt like it. This book was unfortunately very boring. It took me two weeks just to get to 50%. It’s just a rundown of his life. Every chapter went like this “he did this and was successful and then someone he knows died.” I didn’t really care about any of the characters that passed because you don’t really get to know them.

The story was very slow and never really picked up for me. The rook thing got old fast, as they were mentioned in like every single chapter.

Nothing happens in this book! I do not recommend.

About Diane Setterfield

Diane Setterfield is a British author. Her bestselling novel, The Thirteenth Tale (2006) was published in 38 countries worldwide and has sold more than three million copies. It was number one in the New York Times hardback fiction list for three weeks and is enjoyed as much for being ‘a love letter to reading’ as for its mystery and style. Her second novel is Bellman & Black (2013).

Born in Englefield, Berkshire in 1964, Diane spent most of her childhood in the nearby village of Theale. After schooldays at Theale Green, Diane studied French Literature at the University of Bristol. Her PhD was on autobiographical structures in André Gide’s early fiction. She taught English at the Institut Universitaire de Technologie and the Ecole nationale supérieure de Chimie, both in Mulhouse, France, and later lectured in French at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. She left academia in the late 1990s to pursue writing.

The Thirteenth Tale was acquired by Heyday Films and adapted for television by the award-winning playwright and scriptwriter, Christopher Hampton. Starring Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman, it was filmed in 2013 in North Yorkshire for BBC2.

Diane Setterfield’s 2013 novel, Bellman & Black which layers themes of time, memory and loss is published in the autumn of 2013 in UK, USA, Canada, Norway and Spain. Other countries are to follow in 2014.

Diane lives in Oxford, in the UK. When not writing she reads widely, and when not actually reading she is usually talking or thinking about reading. She is, she says, ‘a reader first, a writer second.

Author: punkfarie

punkfarie lives in a virtual house of books, where she visits lands filled with knights and princesses and fairies and witches and dragons, and her best friends are vampires and zombies. Find more of her reviews at Punk's House of Books.

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