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Bellman & Black - Diane Setterfield

I originally posted this on my blog.

I want to preface this review by saying...I hate to have to do this.  Diane Setterfield's debut, The Thirteenth Tale was one of the most amazing books I have ever read.  It is easily in my list of all time favourite books.  It has EVERYTHING - crazy levels of suspense, well thought out characters, a twisty plot, and some of the most lush, vivid, beautiful writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  I have been waiting for Diane Setterfield's next book for YEARS.  Every few months I'd search for when the next book was out, so when I found out about this book (and when I got approved for an ARC) I was ecstatic.  

Bellman & Black has the same beautiful language and gothic feel as The Thirteenth Tale, but sadly none of the suspense.  Reading about a man's obsession with making money just isn't what I'm into.  There are only so many times I can read the details of a mill's accounting before I start getting agonizingly bored.  Especially when I don't understand what the point of it all was!  

From here on out be careful of minor spoilers!  The first part of the book details what a charmed life William has - he's handsome, charming, has had luck with pretty much ALL the ladies in town, is incredibly intelligent, and ends up running a mill.  Unfortunately in the next section of the book, it's all downhill from there.  And throughout all of this William comes off anywhere from being a...jerk, and incredibly boring.  Worst possible combination I can think of.  And the worst part of all of this is...I STILL DON'T GET IT.  I really, really don't know why we had to know all the details of the accounting.  I think I get who Black is?  But what was the deal?  What was he supposed to do?  It makes me SO. ANGRY.  If I had to read this entire book of nothing I at least need to know WHAT WAS IT ALL FOR?!?!?!

On the upside, I actually liked all the asides with facts about the rooks.  For one, it made a break from the monotony of what it's like to run a business.  It also involved some of Setterfield's most beautiful writing.  I didn't include it here, but the last line of the book is everything I love about last lines in a book.  (And of course it involves rooks)

I wanted to love this.  I adore Setterfield's writing, and I absolutely will buy her next book regardless of my feelings on this one.  I imagine it is always incredibly difficult to write another novel when your debut has been so successful with both critics and readers.  I pray that she gets the chance to release another novel because I know I'm not the only one out there rooting for her, despite not loving this novel.
Source: http://oboechica-books.blogspot.com/2014/01/bellman-black-diane-setterfield.html