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Bellman & Black

3.05  ·  Rating details ·  12,071 Ratings  ·  2,818 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
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Community Reviews

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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
Nov 02, 2013 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,
Rob Slaven
Sep 04, 2013 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 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Neobična knjiga ali samo to i ništa više
Nancy Oakes
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2013 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
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
Feb 16, 2011 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!
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 29, 2014 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
«Το κοράκι ξέρει καλά να επιβιώνει. Είναι πανάρχαιο πουλί· κατοικούσε στον πλανήτη πριν από τους ανθρώπους. Αυτό μπορεί κανείς να το αντιληφθεί από τη φωνή του· είναι σκληρή και βραχνή, φτιαγμένη από ένα παλαιότερο κόσμο, που υπήρχε προτού ανακαλυφθούν ο αυλός, το λαούτο, η βιόλα. Πριν επινοηθεί η μουσική, ο πλανήτης έμαθε στο κοράκι να τραγουδάει. Κι αυτό μιμήθηκε το δυνατό βουητό της θάλασσας, την τρομακτική έκρηξη των ηφαιστείων, το τρίξιμο των παγετώνων, το γεωλογικό βογκητό καθώς ο κόσμος χ ...more
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
Jul 25, 2013 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 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
Maria Chnoic
Simply put this is a tale of a man's life set in Victorian times. The man, William, has an almost preternatural knack and foresight for business and thrives and leads a good life. Like all lives, there is some sadness and regret, particularly over an incident in his childhood when he killed a rook. Halfway through though (his life and our story) tragedy strikes. This changes everything the nature of his life and the nature his new business. The second half of the story may be about madness, a ha ...more
Sam Quixote
Dec 28, 2015 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
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 (
Sharon Bolton
Nov 29, 2013 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
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
Sep 01, 2013 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
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I knew from the book's synopsis that a pivotal moment in William Bellman's life was the day he killed a rook with a rock and catapult. This hardly seems like a momentous occasion, but this childhood incident weaves a mysterious and macabre thread throughout the book.

Set in early Victorian England, this story centers around the local Bellman Mill. William Bellman begins life with the handicap of being born of scandal. His father married beneath his family's station in life, and was shunned therea
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
Kelly B
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoy "gentle fiction" with no surprises.
I was so excited to hear that Diane Setterfield was coming out with another book, since I loved The Thirteenth Tale. I was lucky enough to land an ARC of Bellman and Black and started the book with big expectations.

Bellman and Black is an easy read; I burned through it in two days. It's about William Bellman, a man who is very ambitious despite his humble beginings. The book is fairly short, but covers a lot of years. This means characters are introduced, only to be dropped a chapter or two late
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
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Oh man. You know, I actually feel really bad for authors who hit it out of the park with their first book. I totally get why Harper Lee wrote a masterpiece and dropped the mic, man. There’s SO much pressure to come out with something that’s just as brilliant and/or as much of a bestseller. The Thirteenth Tale was wonderful; I adored every page on my first read through, and, though I loved it less the second time, it was still really good. Bellman & Black is not the follow up anyone will be e ...more
Aug 26, 2013 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 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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
The ending??? 20 232 Feb 03, 2017 03:14PM  
Bad book,no; Bad readers 23 132 Dec 03, 2016 12:27PM  
The Gothic Novel ...: Bellman and Black 18 25 Sep 24, 2015 09:37AM  
Gothic Literature: Bellman and Black by Dianne Setterfield 5 27 Jul 16, 2015 10:00AM  
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“…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?” 19 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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