Tuesday 5 November 2013

Review ~ Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

Atria Books 5 November 2013

Blessed with a charmed life, William Bellman is the epitome of Victorian prosperity, until misfortune introduces him to a mysterious man in black whose macabre hold over William's life forms the basis for this interesting and compelling story of Gothic obsession.

When I first started Bellman and Black, I thought that it was a rather unassuming book as nothing much seems to happen for a good third of the novel. However, there is a stealthy quietness to the story which sneaks up on you, and as the morbid fascination for the ritual of death starts to evolve, the sparseness of the narrative becomes more absorbing and offers a disturbing insight into the Victorian fascination for death and dying.

With great precision, the author has captured the very essence of Victorian funereal etiquette, from the intense and varied quality of the black bombazine used for mourning clothes, to the voyeuristic observation of unseemly grief. There is an almost hypnotic quality to the story and a distinct creepiness which seeps into your mind. 

Reading the story late at night you sense a chill in the air, and almost without realising it you start to observe rooks in a whole new light.

My thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for my review copy of this book

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