Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that appears to have unforseen and terrible consequences. The killing of a rook with his catapult is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. And by the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems indeed, to be a man blessed by fortune.
Until tragedy strikes, and the stranger in black comes, and William Bellman starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain. A rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

Ghost stories are not my usual type of read but I was drawn to this by it's cover. After reading it I would say it's not a ghost story more supernatural. It is beautifully written and the author has a lovely way with words but the book did not send any shivers up my spine if that's what it was supposed to do.
 William strikes me as being a decent man,he made one mistake as a child and that was killing a rook and we are asked to believe that rooks never forget a misdemeanour.
The first half of the book is about William growing up, getting married,working in the mill and learning the trade. Everything is going well for him and his family until he sees glimpses of a man in black whom he calls Mr Black. He enters into a business pact with him,or at least he thinks he does and it's all downhill from there.
While reading this book it made me think of the TV drama The Paradise, a story about a department store set in the 1870's and if you read this book you'll understand why.
Each chapter begins with a verse or piece of  mythology about rooks or crows and I found it did add to the story.
I began to become annoyed with William for the way he started treating people including his daughter Dora who was one of life's fighters. He changed completely because of his obsession with Mr Black.
I did enjoy this book and there were times when I found it hard to put down. There were also times when I wasn't quite sure what was going on, was something supernatural really happening or had William lost his mind?
The last few paragraphs in this book are the most poignant words I have read for a long time.The book finishes beautifully and as I am re- reading the end to write this review it has me in tears all over again.
Well worth a read and please let me know if you do read it as I'd love to talk to someone about it.
Thank you to the publisher who provided me with a kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Anne, I've just read the last three reviews here and of the three, Take a Look at me Now sounds like the one that would most appeal to me, but this one sounds quite intriguing too! I really like the way you are hones about the good and not so good points, but still keep the reader interested. A lovely balanced set of reviews!

  2. Thanks Val.I really didn't have you down as a chick lit gal. It's only 99p for kindle so a good price.


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