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A perfect Gothic tale, couldn't put it down
on 11 April 2017
4.5 stars rounded up.
I loved this. A perfect Gothic tale with an enigma at the centre, and lots and lots of twists and turns.
There are twins - two sets, without giving anything away - which always fascinates me, having two identical sets for siblings myself. One of them is the narrator, a lost soul who has hidden herself away with dusty tomes for the past, and who wants nothing to do with the present or (apart from her father) with anyone living. Until she takes on the role of biographer to another twin, in the hope of unravelling the mystery of the lost Thirteenth Tale.
But of course nothing is as it seems. Everything is a puzzle. What is the truth and what is the story? Is perception the only reality? Does the past define the present, or can we escape it? And ultimately, how much of the truth really matters? Every time you think you've got a grasp on the story, it escapes you. Every time you think - ah, now I get it (as Margaret, the narrator does, several times) you realise as you turn the page that you don't get it at all. And right up until the end, you think there are far too many questions to answer, this can never be resolved.
And yet it is. Was the ending to my satisfaction? Hmm, that I am not entirely sure of. In contrast to the darkness in the book, the ending was light, it was a neatly tied-up parcel with no twists and turns, and no room for other explanations. While it explained everything, there was a bit of me that didn't want it all explained. There was a (perhaps perverse) bit of me that didn't want a 'happy' ending, that wanted some questions left open to interpretation.
But that's a minor gripe. The Thirteenth Tale was a brilliant, classic Gothic story complete with bodies and castles and looming weather. It is one of those rare books, one that kept me away from my own writing, one that made me skive off housework and lie late into the night turning the pages just to find out what, and how, and what. Highly recommended.