Robert's Reviews > Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
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bookshelves: netgalley, robert-s-reads

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 they hover above the playing field and never really step out onto the grass. It also develops this phrase in narrative form: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Which proves an interesting expression to ponder for a novel, but I never felt like I was fully invested in this tale.

The dialogue proved a bit pretentious for me with many characters never really becoming enamored with contractions. While William Bellman was certainly an interesting and intriguing character, he never grabbed my attention the way I hoped he would. He was stiff and aloof and more than a tad bit prickly, rigid, and distant. And the pace often proved a bit too leisurely for my tastes. It was more of a meandering jaunt in a field of lilies than a race in an open field. But the writing often sung a soprano solo in the middle of December, I just found myself only half-listening.

In the end, I wanted to enjoy this story, and even though I tried a bit too hard at times to do so, ultimately I just wasn’t the right audience. Since I received THE THIRTEENTH TALE in my Bouchercon book bag, I’ll take it for a spin on the merry-go-round, but I’ll do so with a bit more careful consideration.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Cross-posted at Robert's Reads
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Reading Progress

August 7, 2013 – Shelved
August 7, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
August 7, 2013 – Shelved as: netgalley
October 20, 2013 – Started Reading
October 29, 2013 – Finished Reading
November 2, 2013 – Shelved as: robert-s-reads

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Nicole~ (new) - added it

Nicole~ Aww, I had higher expectations of this book. I liked The Thirteenth Tale.


Robert Mybookend wrote: "Aww, I had higher expectations of this book. I liked The Thirteenth Tale."

Thanks for letting me know about The Thirteenth Tale. It does sound intriguing. Maybe I'll have better luck with it.


Jane I always love your reviews and this one especially. It explains so closely my feelings about this book. I was left a little unfulfilled by the end of the book and felt it was an anti-climax. I feel you will like The Thirteenth Tale better .


Robert Jane wrote: "I always love your reviews and this one especially. It explains so closely my feelings about this book. I was left a little unfulfilled by the end of the book and felt it was an anti-climax. I f..."

Thanks Jane! That phrase of praise never gets old.

I may have to tackle THE THIRTEENTH TALE sooner rather than later, if I can meander my way through a few prior commitments first.


message 5: by Gigi (new)

Gigi Thorsen Absolutely loved 13th Tale!! So bummed her second novel is a dud!


Robert Gigi wrote: "Absolutely loved 13th Tale!! So bummed her second novel is a dud!"

Second novels can be tricky for authors, especially when your first one was such a resounding success. Hopefully this is just a minor hiccup in her writing career.


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