Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
Narrator: Jack Davenport
Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
Date Read: November 2013
Genre: Ghost, Horror
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: Simon & Schuster Audio
Listened/Read for Review (Simon and Schuster/Edelweiss)
Overall Rating: 3.50
Story Rating: 3.50
Character Rating: 3.50
Audio Rating: 4.00 (not part of the overall rating)
First Thought when Finished: Bellman and Black is extremely well written with beautiful prose and wonderful imagery! The book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but the story quietly pulled me in and kept me interested. If you are looking for something slightly gothic, beautifully told, and a little off the beaten path then I think Bellman and Black will work for you.
Audio Thoughts: Jack Davenport knocked it out of the park. I really liked his voice for this setting and these characters. The pacing could have been a little quicker but otherwise fantastic job!