Posted in Gothic

Bellman & Black



I have to marry her.
This minute? Surely not.

Author: Diane Setterfield

Genre: Gothic

Rating: LI



Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . .

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

I read this book in a day. At first it wasn’t clear to me whether this mysterious man was the human form of the rook. By the end of the book, it became clear who the man was. The man pretty much drove Bellman almost crazy. It was really sad too. William, at a certain point, pretty much wasted his whole away with his obsession. In the end, he was so wrong about everything.

This really is a difficult plot to describe. The book was very different from The Thirteenth Tale. That book had a lot of weird people which was what made it gothic. Also you had the impression the entire time that there was mystery/story behind the main character. The people in this book were pretty normal. The only weirdness was that everyone William cared about just kept dying. The whole opening a store dedicated to mourning was a little bit odd, but not terribly so. There was a lot more pomp about death and mourning back then. I’m surprised that there weren’t more stores like this during that time period. There were also some interesting tidbits about rooks. Except for the part about Thought and Memory, I wasn’t really sure of the significance of the trivia.

I liked this book, but something was missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It definitely wasn’t as good as The Thirteenth Tale.


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