Title: Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria Books
From the Publisher: 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"...
I really loved Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale. I’ve been anxiously awaiting something new to read ever since, so when I found out about Bellman and Black I was super excited.
Unfortunately… I just couldn’t get through this book.
Her writing style is impeccable and amazing as always, but I just couldn’t get invested in the characters or the story. I put it down and picked it up and put it down and picked it up… until eventually I never picked it up again. There are just too many other books for me to read to try and stick with this one. William’s character just… annoyed me. I never liked him, and I couldn’t figure out why I should care about this entire story devoted to just him.
I will still give Setterfield a chance when she writes another novel. But this one just wasn’t for me.