4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing and lacking atmosphere.,
This review is from: Bellman & Black (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale but something has gone wrong with her second novel, Bellman and Black.
When William Bellman was 10 years old he boasted that he could kill a rook with his catapult. As the stone flies through the air he realises his mistake but it's too late and the rook falls to the ground. This event sets the stage for the rest of Williams life and the rest of the book.
We follow William as he builds a successful career in a cloth factory and later in a funeral emporium. He marries the woman he loves and has several children. But William is stalked by a mysterious man in black and misfortune seems to follow him wherever he goes.
Setterfield's writing is very good and her imagery is excellent but Bellman and Black just fails to get off the ground. William is essentially a dull character and the mysteries surrounding Black are never really explained. Each chapter is preceded by a snippet on corvids (crows, rooks, ravens etc) and I gathered that this held some special significance but I failed to grasp it and I found these sections pointless and ineffectual.
Overall I was incredibly disappointed with Bellman and Black. It is touted as a Victorian, gothic ghostly story but ultimately it lacks the atmosphere and the plot is too weak to carry it through 350 odd pages. As another reviewer noted it might have been more effective as a short story.