Bellman & Black

Bellman & Black

Book - 2013
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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" . . .

Publisher: Toronto : Bond Street Books/Doubleday Canada, c2013
ISBN: 9780385679503
Branch Call Number: SET
Characteristics: 307 p. ;,23 cm


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Jun 08, 2017

If you enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this book should be right up your alley. I wouldn't call it a mystery so much as an historical fantasy. Well written--it made me want to go find other books by Ms. Setterfield.

* * * * * Five stars

Sep 29, 2015

Found this book on the mystery shelf. Only mystery is what it was doing there.

Sep 13, 2015

I kept reading this waiting for something to happen and nothing ever did. PG-13 for brief, mild, sex

Jul 31, 2015

The variety of reviews interest me. This is researched so well to explain how/why the Victorian era continues to influence many present day practices; how clothing mills progress; the details of cloth; the ravages of 19thC illnesses & how they devastate populations. Historical in nature. I'd like this in MP3 format so as not to keep changing discs.

Dec 12, 2014

A disappointment after her previous book. Started off okay, but got really slow! I found I wanted desperately to get away from the main character, super dull life, and not at all positive. Ugh, was so happy for it to end. The one thing that I did like was all the references to Corvids. Many interesting facts at each chapter. That part was fun.

JCLChristiH Oct 21, 2014

I'd classify this story as more of a beautifully Gothic historical fiction that would appeal to bird enthusiasts and those who enjoy the details of early Downton Abbey era England.

Jan 14, 2014

A satisfyingly dark and atmospheric Gothic tale, in which vaulting worldly ambition goes hand in hand with loss and clammy dread. But I wonder if the author was just a little too in love with her research into mid-Victorian funeral pomp. This would have worked as a long story or a novella, but at 300 pages it gets a bit sprawling and cluttered. One of the themes here is the arc of life and of story, but that arc itself isn't cleanly delineated in the telling. Not bad, just not as good as it could have been.

Jan 10, 2014

Captivating story-telling with well-crafted characters and luscious atmospheric prose. A wonderful read.

Jan 09, 2014

A fascinating story of how a small incident in one boy's life comes to haunt his every moment as a grown man. With details of historical fabric mills and life in Britain at a time when mourning was done up in black crepe or grey as the situation warranted, this clever "ghost" story is a serpentine way of getting to a very satisfying conclusion.

gracindaisy Jan 08, 2014

As a boy, a man remembers killing a rook with his slingshot; an act which haunts him his entire life.

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