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Haunted by a bird?

April 21, 2014

Not normally to my taste, the cover was so beautifully designed, I couldn’t resist “Bellman & Black” by Diane Setterfield.

Timagehe story begins when a boy, at an impossible distance, kills a rook with his catapult.  The reader learns about rooks, or corvids (both factually and mythically) as the author weaves her tale around William Bellman, a man surrounded by tragedy which may or may not be related to the rook he killed as a boy; and the strange conversations he has with a black-clad, corvid-like man at the multitude of funerals William has to attend.

After one of these conversations with the black-clad man, William decides to open the first mourning emporium in London in the late nineteenth century. Did the man in black give good advice? Are there any profits to share with his graveside companion? And what is the hold the rook-world has on William – real or fantastical?

Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of fantasy, because it isn’t really in that genre. Diane Setterfield is a skilled writer who keeps you riveted until the last page: I finished this in one reading, no doubt helped along by the first time in years of having no internet for 24 hours. Not only do I recommend this book, I recommend switching off your internet of an evening and becoming submerged in a good book instead.

– Tamara Jones

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