Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

Publisher: Atria
Released: (Upcoming) November 5th, 2013.
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5


William Bellman’s life has been like a roller-coaster ride, his success has steadily increased but life’s obstacles always remind him that he’s not in control of the bigger picture. As a boy, Bellman commits one small, cruel act, and he wonders if this has left him with life-long consequences.  He’s built a name for himself, and he’s become quite successful, but his success can’t save his wife and children when they all suddenly fall sick. The whole town is suffering from this illness, and Bellman can’t do anything but standby. During the many funerals he’s attended during his life, Bellman always notices a man in black, he’s always lurking, always watching, and no one seems to know who Bellman is talking about. When his youngest daughter lies on her death bed, and Bellman is contemplating suicide, he makes a deal with the man in black.


Bellman and Black is Diane Setterfield’s second novel, her first The Thirteenth Tale was a huge success. I loved The Thirteenth Tale and couldn't wait to read this one as well. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. Bellman is a great character, and readers will be drawn to him. There’s not a lot of action that takes place through the novel, at times it does feel a little slow but I was steadily engaged. Setterfield's writing is eloquent, and very atmospheric.

Bellman and Black is a difficult book to review. I think it’s going to be a book reader's will either love or hate. It really shouldn't be compared to The Thirteenth Tale, because I felt that her debut novel was much more captivating and memorable. I think readers will need to step away from The Thirteenth Tale and give Bellman and Black a chance. Often times, hype or an author’s previous success  leads to too many expectations, and readers feel disappointed. I think this could easily happen with Bellman and Black.


  1. I've heard a lot about this book but wonder if it's too slow for me. I'm going to have to think about it.

  2. I just finished this one the other day and was so disappointed. Definitely not a book I would recommend. Much too slow going for my tastes.

  3. I agree with your advice not to compare it to The Thirteenth Tale. I liked B & B.

  4. I'm one of the few readers who didn't think The Thirteenth Tale was a great as it was made out to be, so I'm sort of on the fence about whether or not to give this one a try. Since the two books shouldn't and can't be compared maybe I'll have more luck with this one :-)

  5. I passed on this one. After reading your review, I think I made the right decision.

  6. I haven't read The Thirteenth Tale yet. Maybe it's best to start with this one.

  7. I thought it very slow too and had to force myself to finish it. The writing is very well done and beautiful but just too slow. The whole rook thing just didn't do anything for me.

  8. My expectation was high, but I saw this book for what it was and it was a huge disappointment. It seemed as if the story could have gone anywhere else and been better for it.