Official Stuff –
Author – Diane Setterfield
Pages – 328
Publisher – Atria Books
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” . . .
My Rating – 1 1/2 of 5 stars
I received this book for free from Netgalley on behalf of Atria Books in exchange for a fair review.
I know what the summary tells you what this story is supposed to be about, however after reading it I can say that this book was about nothing. I was pretty disappointed because it sounds like a creepy
ghost story and who doesn’t like a good ghost story?
This was definitely not a creepy ghost story. The ghost part of the story doesn’t start until halfway through the book and by that time I was skimming. The book is mostly about the textile industry in the 1800s and how successful this man made this family business.
When William Bellman was ten years old, he shot a rook with a slingshot and killed it. This rook was a descendent of Odin’s crows and this led to William being cursed. Only he doesn’t know it. He actually grows up and has an amazing life.
He’s a pretty great guy actually; smart, handsome and hardworking. Even though he is an outcast from the Bellman family, his uncle takes him under his wing and he is on his way to owning the Bellman family mill.
One problem, everyone around him dies. One by one his family and friends start to die in (generally) sudden ways. Most of the time he doesn’t think anything of it because the cans death can be years apart and aren’t entirely unexplainable. But then there is a sickness and he quickly loses all his children, save one, and his wife within weeks of each other. When his last surviving child is on the brink of death, he makes a deal with a mysterious stranger to save her.
And that folks…is all she wrote.
Okay not really but it felt like it. This book was unfortunately very boring. It took me two weeks just to get to 50%. It’s just a rundown of his life. Every chapter went like this “he did this and was successful and then someone he knows died.” I didn’t really care about any of the characters that passed because you don’t get to know them.
The story was very slow and never really picked up for me. The rook thing got old fast, as they were mentioned in like every single chapter.
Nothing happens in this book! I do not recommend.