Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

imageI would like to read the novel Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield, the New York Times best-selling author of The Thirteenth Tale, which has been described as a heart-thumpingly perfect and tense ghost story, which is beautifully and irresistibly written. The novels’ main protagonist is William Bellman, who as a boy goes out with his friends Luke, Charles and Fred and commits one small cruel act by deliberately killing a shiny black rook with his catapult. Despite dire warnings from superstitious people, William dismisses this event and eventually grows up to be someone, his neighbours think, “could go to the good or the bad.” And indeed, years later William Bellman’s life seems blessed by good fortune – he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and owns a thriving business called Bellman’s Mill.

However His life gradually takes a turn for the worse and he starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed, when one by one, people around him start to die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man dressed in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children start to 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, so William, who is Desperate to save the one thing he has left, enters into a bargain with The stranger who has a rather strange proposition for William, involving a mysterious and decidedly macabre business called “Bellman & Black” . . .


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