Tag Archives: Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale

The thirteenth taleby Diane Setterfield

When is ghost story not a ghost story? When it’s written by Diane Setterfiled of course! 

The Thirteenth Tale has all the elements of a creepy ghost story – unaccounted sounds, shadowy figures, family secrets and a mysterious death – but it is not a ghost story in the traditional sense. Diane Setterfield’s wonderful debut is a tale of love and self-discovery set against the backdrop of dark secrets.

It is actually two stories. First we have Margaret Lea, a budding biographer more at home with books than people. When she is invited to write the life story of famous writer Vida Winter, at first she is reluctant, but is soon drawn inexplicably to this mysterious woman. As Vida begins to tell her tale, Margaret is drawn into the story, not just of her new employer, but also of the secretive Marsh family and their chilling past.

Uncovering the truth behind the former residents of Angelfield House, Margaret also begins to face her own past and her own fears. She tells Vida that she has no story of her own, but that is not true and when her researches lead her to visit Angelfield House itself, she begins to open herself up to her own loss.

The Thirteenth Tale is well written, well-paced and revealing book. I was drawn into the stories of these two families from the very first page. The style is easy but at the same time relentless. As the secrets begin to unravel I became more and more gripped by the interweaving of the two stories.

And just when I thought I had it all figured out, events take an unexpected turn and I found myself even more intrigued as the story raced to its unexpected, yet inevitable conclusion.

Diane Setterfield is a great mystery writer. Her second book “Bellman & Black” (which I read previously) is another great example of her ability to drawn the reader into a chilling world of the unknown.

The BBC have produced a drama based on the book which I really must see. 

Bellman & Black

by Diane Setterfield

Bellman and Black“Bellman & Black” is a dark tale of tragedy, success, mystery and rooks. It follows the life of William Bellman, starting with his killing of a rook as a ten-year-old. A seemingly insignificant event that comes to have greater meaning as he gets older.

In his late teens young William is taken under the wing of his uncle Paul who gives him a job at the family textiles mill. Everything goes well, with William quickly becoming an integral and increasingly important part of the Bellman empire. But tragedy is never very far away, and a series of tragic and, in some cases, unexplained deaths conspire to leave William running the family business.

Just when he feels secure, with the mill more successful than ever and his wife and children content in their lives, the ultimate tragedy brings William to despair. It is then that a chance meeting with a stranger sets William on a new course, giving him something to funnel his energies into.

But what has all this got to do with the rooks?

“Bellman & Black” is an unusual book. It is not a ghost story, although it does have some of the dark mystery that you would associate with the genre. It is compelling, well written and full of surprises. I must say I was a little disappointed with the way it ended as I felt there was something more that could have been told about William’s later years, but this does not alter the fact that I found it a riveting read, one I could not put down and enjoyed to the very last page. 

A really intriguing and entertaining book.