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Bellman & Black

3.03  ·  Rating Details ·  10,359 Ratings  ·  2,581 Reviews
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 10, 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 ...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books (first published 2013)
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Melanie I finished the book in 2 days. I enjoy books that make you think and beg for you to read between the lines. After you finish, go to the website purple…moreI finished the book in 2 days. I enjoy books that make you think and beg for you to read between the lines. After you finish, go to the website purple and read her review. Also, I agree that the use of the word "ghost" story was misleading and suggest maybe an "eerie" tale instead??(less)
Anna Zook
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
If you loved The Thirteenth Tale, as I did, Bellman and Black will feel like it wasn't even written by the same author. I stayed with it through page 161. That's over half the book, so I gave it a fair shot, and way more of my time than it deserved. What is the stinking point of the story? Nothing happens. A lot of people die, but Setterfield doesn't make you care about them. If you want to read a boring novel about the textile industry, this is exactly the book you've been waiting for.
The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield's first novel, was released in 2006 and was, in my opinion, fantastic. In the following years, as I do with all newly discovered favourite authors, I kept a close eye out for any news regarding upcoming novels. Every few months, I would hopefully Google "Diane Setterfield 2nd novel" and little would come up. And so, I've had 7 years (7 years! Not as bad as Donna Tartt's every-10-years record, and on par with Marisha Pessl, but still!) to anticipate and hype ...more
Travelling Sunny
Jan 08, 2014 Travelling Sunny rated it did not like it
A Ghost Story. Pffttt! A ghost story my ass. How did that even get IN the title here? Because, it's not ANYWHERE in my book. Not on the cover. Not on the title page. Nowhere. It's Bellman & Black, A Novel. Full stop. No mention of 'A Ghost Story'. Anywhere.

I feel so cheated.

Imagine me, a grown woman, throwing myself onto the floor, kicking my feet, pounding my fists, and screaming in frustration. That just about perfectly describes the tantrum I envisioned myself having at the end. Because,
Nancy Oakes
Nov 13, 2013 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rob Slaven
Mar 10, 2016 Rob Slaven rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shelfawareness
As usual, I received this book not through actually purchasing it but because someone gave it to me for review. In this case the book came from a galley giveaway on ShelfAwareness. Despite that kind consideration I'm still not afraid to roast even a free book with a scathing review. Luckily in this case, no such conflagration is necessary.

Firstly, it should be noted that I religiously avoid reading the back jackets of books, so going into this one I had only the cover and the subtitle "A ghost s
Oct 31, 2013 Dem rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

Bellman and Black is the long awaited novel from Diane Setterfield and like others I could not wait to get my hands on this gothic story.

I love the title of this novel and the cover as it gives a mysterious quality to the book before the reader even begins the story.

As a child William Bellman while out playing with his friends commits one small cruel act killing a bird with his slingshot. Little does he know that this action will bring on consequences in his adult life that he will h
Oct 18, 2016 Babybook rated it it was ok
Neobična knjiga ali samo to i ništa više
Feb 16, 2011 Virginie marked it as to-read
I have been eagerly waiting for a second book by Setterfield, hope it will be as engrossing as the first one!
I’d have to say it’s rather difficult to describe my emotional state after finishing BELLMAN & BLACK: A GHOST STORY. On the one hand, this was a well-written, slowly developing story that caused me to contemplate the consequences of all my actions, not just the major, life changing experiences; on the other, it did have ghostly elements, but when I picture a ghost story, this isn’t exactly what I have in mind. It’s more of a literary ghost story where you realize the ghosts are there, but th ...more
English author Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, was a big seller in America, reaching #1 in the charts. I didn't actually know this when I read it: I happened upon it at the library, thought it sounded like my kind of thing, and really enjoyed reading it, although I didn't find it particularly remarkable. Subsequently finding out about Setterfield's huge success in the US made me more interested in the author's next move than I probably would have been otherwise, and when I ...more
Patrice Hoffman
I don't remember being any more conflicted with a review rating as I am with Diane Setterfield's latest Bellman & Black. On one hand it's beautifully written and on the other, I just felt so hollow inside upon finishing it. After reading rave reviews for her bestseller The Thirteenth Tale I may have set the bar too high but... where can you go wrong when the word Ghost is a part of its title?

William Bellman is 11 when the story begins and progresses with him as an adult. Everything about Be
Dec 30, 2014 Phrynne rated it really liked it
I had read the reviews for this and was aware that many people did not like it so I started in with fear and trepidation. All unfounded because I really enjoyed it! It took a while to get into the story but by the second half I was completely engrossed and had to keep reading to the end. I loved the parallel chapters featuring the ravens and the little comments about the different names for a group of them. And the clever little paragraph at the end where we discover what ravens call a group of ...more
Gerri Leen
Dec 10, 2013 Gerri Leen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got 54% of the way through this before I said enough. I know this because this is the first book I've read on my new Kindle and the Kindle tells me how far I got. Being the inaugural Kindle book is the only memorable thing about this.

I loved The Thirteenth Tale so I really wanted to love this. And I should have loved a book this full of rooks (I'm a huge corvid fan). But I could not buy into the protagonist. He was, well, unbelievable in so many ways. Not solely because the way he is referred
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Beautifully written, but I struggled to connect with any of the characters. I could not feel happy or sad for them. I actually liked the first quarter of the book, but then the story just became flat. I felt no tension building towards the conclusion, and was left wondering, so what?

I am in no doubt that the author can write wonderful books, and I was captivated by her previous novel. Unfortunately this one missed the mark for me.

The story: As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act t
Oct 19, 2013 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed the Thirteenth Tale for several reasons but what struck me most about it was, simply, its wonderful, old-fashioned story-telling. It seems a perversely difficult thing to find in a book! (Zafon, for example, has it in truck loads). It's that little something that makes you want to crawl into a hiding place and stay there, undisturbed, until the book is finished.

Bellman and Black has this quality too; even while I was enjoying the sights of Vienna, the book was calling me - c
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Real rating: 1.5

I’m really conflicted about this book. Writing wise, there’s absolutely, positively nothing wrong about this book. I liked the author's other book The Thirteenth Tale too.

This is a major case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” To be honest, I skimmed the last 30% of this book, and I really can’t say much of what happened because I did not care.

This book follows William Bellman, who accidentally kills a rook (
Sam Quixote
Dec 28, 2015 Sam Quixote rated it did not like it
Bellman & Black wasn’t just the worst novel I’ve read all year (and I’ve read some humdingers this year!) but it’s down there amongst the worst novels I’ve ever had the misfortune to read.

The pathetic story (I can’t put enough quotation marks around that word so I won’t try) is about a Victorian entrepreneur called William Bellman who makes his mill a success and then sets up a successful funeral shop called Bellman & Black in London.

I shit you not, that is 97% of the book! Some 300 pa
Oct 05, 2013 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with Diane Setterfield’s first novel – ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ –and when a second novel with an intriguing title appeared after a long wait, my expectations soared. Maybe they went too high because, although I found some things to love, in the end I was disappointed.

A prologue set the story up beautifully. A group of boys, out playing in the countryside. One has a catapult, he sees a bird, he takes a shot, and the bird falls. Dead. He moved on, he quickly forgot, but at that moment
Morana Mazor
Pročitala sam prije nekog vremena ovu knjigu, ali nikako da "sredim dojmove" i napišem svoj doživljaj iste, ali sada ću pokušati... Poprilično čudna knjiga.. ali, da krenem od početka.
Prvo, moram reći da sam se jako razveselila kada sam vidjela da je Diane Setterfield (nakon cca. 10.god.) objavila nešto novo; naime, njezin roman "Trinaesta priča" (prema kojem je, 2013.god. snimljen i istoimeni film) mi se prilično svidio pa sam baš željela pročitati i njezin novi uradak.
Ali, ovo je nešto potp
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

‘Without the past to cast its long shadow, might you see the future more clearly?’

Bellman & Black is the story of William Bellman who’s life was irrevocably altered after killing a crow with a slingshot when he was eleven years old. The brief yet ominous event foreshadows his life to come. William leads a prosperous life
I got Bellman & Black from Netgalley a while ago, without really knowing anything about it. It turned out to be a smooth, easy read, but it didn't really get any emotional hooks into me. The narration is very straightforward after the opening chapter, which seemed to promise more by way of emotion -- the main character's courtship of his wife takes barely a chapter, and a short chapter at that! So with all that it's very hard to get involved in the rest of the novel. Despite all the death an ...more
Sharon Bolton
Jan 10, 2014 Sharon Bolton rated it really liked it
“(A rook) is not just black, he is blacker than that. His is a luxurious superabundance of blackness never seen in any other creature.”

As a child, William Bellman kills a rook in an act of thoughtless cruelty. Decades later, his life becomes haunted by a mysterious man in black and his fortunes take a turn for the worse. In the desperate hope of clinging onto one person he loves, William makes a strange bargain with the man in black.

A driven man, William turns into the creative force behind a
Perhaps I was the victim of over-anticipation after previous enjoyment. I certainly expected that my enjoyment of this book should, in some way, approach the enjoyment I received from The Thirteenth Tale. And it had potential. But in the end, it was mostly just odd.

It started slowly, but seemed like it was about to pick up the pace a little over a third of the way through, however it never actually developed any further.

There were strange “chapters” interspersed between the proper chapters, head
Jun 07, 2014 Ana rated it did not like it
DNF at 120 pages.

It's rare for me to give a book 1 star, and it's even rarer for me to not finish a book. I always try to give a book a chance, especially if it's one by an author that has impressed me in the past. I even surpassed my usual limit of 50 pages hoping that it would make some kind of impression on me. This time I just couldn't do it.

I was bored to tears. At 120 pages the plot should have already surfaced, and if it hasn't, then I don't have the patience to wait for it anymore. Nor
I don't even really know where to begin with this review. I have never once felt like I completely wasted my time with a book as I did with this one. I kept waiting for action, for the "ghost" to have some real impact on the story, for something to happen other than talking repeatedly over and over and over about Bellman's business acumen, investments, ideas for more profit, etc.

But it never happened. It just kept going on and on and on and on, and nothing happened, other than we watched a man g
Apr 16, 2015 M rated it it was amazing
A great read! A ghost story, but much more. After suffering great personal loss, William Bellman's "contract" with a mysterious stranger brings him retail riches and restores his daughter. But the cost of his success is revealed to him only at the end of his life. Rich in period detail, this novel is a joy to read. The last few pages are evocative, lyrical, uplifting.

Fans of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, The Cabinet of Curiosities, and of course, Diane Setterfield's first novel, The Thirteen
Sep 07, 2013 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Diane Setterfield's first novel; The Thirteenth Tale is one of my all-time favourite novels. I read it in
hardback, when it was newly released in 2006, almost seven years ago and when I'm asked for book recommendations I always urge people to read it. It's a gothic tale, a book about books, a mystery, a ghost story - it's book-shaped perfection.

I went to hear Diane Setterfield talk about her writing, at Waterstone's in Lincoln, I think it was in the winter of 2007. I remember a very softly spoke
Apr 27, 2013 Mikaela marked it as to-read
Definitely a must read! Her last novel was unbelievably amazing, and I can't wait for this one to come out.
I understand why people think this book is uneventful. There is a lot of information that would be tedious if you weren't enamored with the story. I was totally engrossed from the beginning to about the second half of the book. Once Bellman and Black actually opened, I became a little nervous....and then that ending. I didn't dislike it but I felt like it was a missed opportunity to strike home the real heart of the novel.

In a way, this reminds me of A Christmas Carol, with a more likable Scroo
Rebecca Foster
You’ll enjoy this novel best if you can read it of an evening in an English country graveyard, with dozens of rooks coming in to roost overhead. Without that suggestive setting to inspire you, you might not make it through this book at all.

Setterfield’s second novel is a peculiar beast, you see; it’s a bit like a classic suspense story (though not a ghost story, as the cover suggests), but also an English country fable like Jim Crace’s Harvest. Protagonist William Bellman is part Job and part Fa
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Gothic Novel ...: Bellman and Black 21 22 Sep 24, 2015 09:37AM  
Bad book,no; Bad readers 23 119 Jul 22, 2015 11:17AM  
Gothic Literature: Bellman and Black by Dianne Setterfield 5 27 Jul 16, 2015 10:00AM  
Ladies & Literature: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield (A Traveling Book) 103 148 Sep 05, 2014 11:27AM  
  • The Seance
  • The Anatomy of Ghosts
  • A Study in Ashes (The Baskerville Affair, #3)
  • Thanksgiving
  • This House is Haunted
  • The Waking Dreamer (The Waking Dreamer, #1)
  • The Storycatcher
  • Havisham
  • The Circle of Thirteen
  • A Fatal Likeness
  • The Poisoned House
  • A Dangerous Fiction: A Mystery
  • The White Forest
  • The Dark Between
  • Blood Orange Soda
  • The Small Hand and Dolly
  • The Book of the Crowman (Black Dawn #2)
  • The Vanishing
“…a mistress of the craft of storytelling.”
The Guardian

Diane Setterfield is a British author. Her bestselling novel, The Thirteenth Tale (2006) was published in 38 countries worldwide and has sold more than three million copies. It was number one in the New York Times hardback fiction list for three weeks and is enjoyed as much for being ‘a love letter to reading’ as for its mystery and style. Her
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“Without the past to cast its long shadow, might you see the future more clearly?” 17 likes
“People remembered. They wept and they grieved. In the spaces between, they were glad that the leeks were doing well this year, envied the bonnet of the neighbor's cousin, relished the fragrance of pork roasting in the kitchen on Sunday. There were those that registered the beauty of a pale moon suspended behind the branches of the elms on the ridge.” 6 likes
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