Internationally acclaimed for her first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield has now written a second novel called Bellman and Black, which I believe is - if possible - even better than the first. Although the novels have completely different stories, each contains an element of mystery and occultism that makes them feel like the Gothic fiction of the Brontes or Ann Radcliffe. Impeccably written and richly descriptive, Setterfield's novels are really fantastic fiction.
Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
William Bellman seems to have it all - a loving wife, children, and a successful business which he has built from the ground up. However, when a series of tragedies strike, it appears that something is working against Bellman's happiness. As a young boy, egged on by his friends, Bellman shot and killed a rook with a sling shot. Although it was an incredible feat since the bird was so far away, Bellman felt guilty about killing the bird and tried to forget that it had ever happened - but rooks never forget. A mysterious man dressed all in black begins to appear like a spectre at the funerals of Bellman's loved ones, and in a last ditch attempt to save himself and his family, he strikes a deal with the man he knows as Black, and they go into an unusual business together.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
"Vida Winter, a bestselling yet reclusive novelist, has created many outlandish life histories for herself, all of them invention. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to biographer Margaret Lea - a woman with secrets of her own - is a summons. Vida's tale is one of Gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family: the beautiful and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling, but as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction and she doesn't trust Vida's account. As she begins her researches, two parallel stories unfold. Join Margaret as she begins her journey to the truth - hers, as well as Vida's." Discover
I enjoyed reading both of these novels because they were an interesting combination of spine-chilling suspense and historical fiction.