Review: Bellman & Black / by Madeleine

Bellman & Black is a mix between a ghost story and an immensely detailed work of historical fiction. William Bellman is just ten years old when he makes the most incredible and legendary catapult shot, killing a young rook and setting into motion a chain of events that will haunt him for life. As his story unfolds and he becomes a great success in his small community in Victorian England, he suffers many personal tragedies. Always lurking during his times of sorrow is a shadowy figure upon whom Bellman bestows the name Black, a man always in the periphery whom Bellman seeks out but can never seem to find. During a moment of grief and desperation, Bellman and Black finally meet, and out of their meeting comes the idea for a business venture.

I am so glad that I finally got my hands on this book. I was reluctant to buy it when it was first released in October (I am big on bargain hunting when it comes to books), but this January I finally broke down and bought the hardcover off Amazon. I do not regret spending the extra money in the slightest, as this is one of those books that I see myself reading many times over. Diane Setterfield captured my attention with her first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, which I still cannot stop thinking about three years after choosing it randomly off of a library shelf. I'm especially glad that Setterfield did not try to write another novel of the same vein as her first, because it would have been extremely difficult to reach that level of expectation. I'm reluctant to give you many details about

Bellman and Black because so much of the story depends on the mystery of it; what I can say is that this is a book that, while not fast-paced or heart-pounding, had me enthralled and intrigued from the start. I'm still not sure that I caught on to all of the many details that give us clues as to who Black really is, but I do still enjoy the lingering feeling of mystery that I feel now more than two weeks after finishing it. Definitely a recommended read for anyone who loves the type of characters that are betwixt and between.

Bottom Line Rating: 4/5


  • Title: Bellman and Black
  • Author: Diane Setterfield
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 2013
  • Price: $15 on Amazon
  • ISBN: 147671195X
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Amazon