November 12, 2013

Review: Bellman & Black by: Diane Setterfield

Bellman & Black by: Diane Setterfield (Nov. 5, 2013)
328 pages
Genre: Fiction/Gothic
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Source: I received a free ARC of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Barnes and NobleAmazon
Goodreads Summary: 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" . . .

My Review

Bellman & Black is essentially a story about life and death. William Bellman lives an amazing life, has a job he loves and is good at it, has a beautiful family, and a lot of money. That is until a sickness takes over many in his town and his wife and two of his children succumb to death. Then everything changes when he finally meets the man in black, the one that he has seen at countless funerals over the years.

There is one thing I can say with certainty about Bellman & Black, Setterfield knows how to tell a story. She writes beautifully and has the ability to write descriptions of images that will take a while to leave your mind. It's a beautiful yet very dark story and at times very creepy, but one worth reading.

William Bellman is a man I love and a man I hate. To put it simply, he is a great character. He is obsessed with work and numbers. If you don't like a lot of business talk then this book could perhaps get a little boring or frustrating for you. It didn't bother me at all because I found it all so interesting. His daughter Dora is also a great character, from a fun loving child to a darker personality and yet always kind. There are a lot of characters that you will get to meet if you read Bellman & Black and all are significant no matter how small of a role they play, and each will make you feel some sort of emotion.

So after all of this praise why did I only give Bellman & Black 3.5 stars? It's complicated. I think part of the reason is because it wasn't as good as her other book, The Thirteenth Tale, (I know this shouldn't be a factor but whatever) the other part just has to do with a feeling I had when reading, that something was missing. Overall, the big meeting between Black and Bellman just didn't live up to my expectations and that is the main reason for its star rating.

If you are willing to read something a little dark, at times creepy, but full of vivid descriptions and wonderful writing, then Bellman & Black shouldn't be passed up. 

MY RATING: 3.5/5 stars

11 comments:

  1. Oh- I love dark, Gothic, and creepy, especially when they're vivid descriptions! I saw this awhile back and was not sure what to think of it- I enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale, so I really need to check out Bellman & Black some more. Thanks for the helpful review Kay :)

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    1. You are very welcome! It's a very interesting read.

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  2. I really enjoyed this one, and while I haven't read the Thirteenth Tale to compare, she writes beautifully. Lovely review Kay :)

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    1. Thanks! It was a good read and I enjoyed how different it was than what I'm normally reading.

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  3. I hate to do that too, but I can't help but compare one book to another by the same author! I think the first book you read by an author sets up an expectation in your mind so it's hard NOT to compare them. After reading your review, I think I'll stick with my decision to pass on this one... I actually didn't quite care for The Thirteenth Tale and if this didn't live up to your expectations, sounds like I won't enjoy it as much as I would hope to!

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    1. This book is a little different, I don't think everyone would like it, especially if you didn't really enjoy her other book it would make sense to skip this one.

      I try so hard not to compare authors' other books but I just can't help it sometime. I'm glad I'm not alone.

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  4. I got this one from NetGalley too but it's not high up on my TBR list. I have heard that Diane Setterfield's writing doesn't disappoint, and I'm looking forward to seeing that and unraveling the mystery. Lovely review, Kay! :D

    - Kazhy @ My Library in the Making

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    1. Thank you and thanks for reading! There is just something about Setterfield's writing that I love.

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  5. hmm you read some interesting books. I need to start an "Adult book recommendations from Kay" shelf on Goodreads or something :) But I'd add The Thirteenth Tale :)

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    1. You should totally add that shelf. lol :)

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  6. OK, I can comment here now because I have FINALLY finished this one! I think I read something like 8 or 9 audio books all while continuing to plug away at this one, even though it was so short! I think my expectations were a bit skewed because I liked The Thirteenth Tale so much...will have to do some serious thought-gathering before I put together a review on this one. I can say with certainty though that it was not as good as I hoped it would be :/

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