Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

Hardcover, 336 pages

Expected publication: November 5th 2013 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

My Source: Netgalley

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.

I have not read Ms. Setterfield’s first book, The Thirteenth Tale. Having read so many good reviews for that book, I jumped right on this one. I’m sorry to say I was very disappointed. This book is fairly long at 336 pages and I had to force myself to finish it.  

This is a story of a man with a perfect life. And then he begins losing the things that were the most important to him thru death. He becomes obsessed with order, lists, numbers and success. But mostly with death.

The writing is eloquent and flows nicely. I liked the people in the story. But there just was no ‘action’. Long, detailed descriptions of how a family mill is operated and then the same with a new ‘macabre’ business William sets up. I kept waiting and waiting for it to ‘dive’ into some action, but it never came. 

I never quite got the connection with the opening incident with the rook and the rest of William’s life. Some how the author just doesn’t articulate that well through-out the story, I thought. The book left me feeling I had wasted my time pushing through. I thought if I soldiered on it would all come together for me at the end but it didn’t.

If your looking for a ghost story, this just isn’t it, in my opinion. I didn’t get the sense of a ghost story or atmosphere of one at all.

I hate having to write a negative report but that’s my honest opinion. You might love it. Here is a link to one positive report I found.


This report is linked to R.I.P VIII over @ Carl’s Stainless Steel Droppings

Peggy Ann