My rating: 2 of 5 stars
ebook, 328 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Atria/Emily Bestler BooksSource: Netgalley
'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 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" . . .'
I went into reading Bellman & Black without first reading Diane Setterfield's other novel, The Thirteenth Tale, so I had no idea what to expect from this author. After doing further research since finishing this one I've come to realise that these two books are apparently completely different to each other in the way they are written so if you like one you won't necessarily be a fan of the other.
Unfortunately I found Bellman & Black a very tedious, slow-paced and difficult book to read. I'd have to go as far as to say that I thought it was boring, plain and simple.
First up were the characters, I couldn't relate to any of them and didn't really end up liking any of them either.
Second up is the whole 'Ghost Story' thing. Where was the ghost story? I couldn't see how this aspect came into the book at all. In my opinion the main character, William Bellman, had psychological issues which made him have a bit of an imaginary 'friend' in the form of Black and be manipulated by him throughout the story but I'm still not really sure.
Lastly, was the plot itself. Other than the fact it very closely followed the career of William Bellman and his successful business as well as the unfortunate demise of his poor family, I can't really think of anything else memorable that actually happened during the whole book.
I had to force myself to finish it just so I could have something to review, but I certainly won't be recommending this book to others.