by 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.