Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Date: November 5, 2013
How did I get this book? free Advance Reader's Copy from the publisher via Shelf Awareness/Atria Galley Alley for my honest review
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
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I was so excited to read this book because I absolutely adored Ms. Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. This was by no means a bad book, but I can't help but feel it pales a little in comparison. It took me a long time to read despite its short number of pages (328) and after a beginning that really grabbed me, I felt like it started to drag a bit. Ironically, I think it would actually be a good book to re-read knowing how everything turns out, but I probably won't get to that any time soon! Before you get the idea that this is a completely negative review though, let me move onto the many good things about this novel. I love the historical setting and the gothic tone. The writing itself is excellent and I loved the character of William Bellman. Watching as he changed from a happy, successful, ambitious young man into a broken older one obsessed with growing his business in order to ward off that which haunts him was both sad and fascinating to witness.
This book really made me think about the roles work, money, ambition, mistakes, regret, and loss play in a someone's life and how those things can change a person. As I was reading this book, I was also re-reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and I couldn't help but draw some comparisons to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. While Bellman's actions are at first driven by a desire to save his daughter and salvage what little is left of his family, he becomes so obsessed with his work and increasing his profits that he misses out on so many other aspects of life. He is not motivated by greed, but rather truly believes he is doing what he must to uphold his end of a "deal with the devil," so to speak. In the end, he barely even sees the daughter he so desperately wanted to save and has no life outside of his work.
So would I recommend this book? Yes and no. I do not recommend that you pick it up for the sole reason that it is written by the same author as The Thirteenth Tale. Be aware of how different this story is and know what you are getting into. As far as ghost stories go, this one is rather subtle. If you are looking for something very scary or suspenseful, this is probably not the book for you. But if you have any interest in exploring some of the themes I've mentioned, it is definitely worth a read.