Bellman and Black
By: Diane Setterfield
After reading about Edgar Alan Poe, Diane Setterfield’s book Bellman and Black caught my eye. Rooks, Ravens, death and a masterful tale looked like a good follow up read. The twists, turns, and vivid detail quickly drew me in and I became absorbed in the tale. It is quickly evident that this is not Denise Setterfield’s first work. Her skill and style of writing draws you through this tale revealing vivid detail yet still holds enough back to leave you wondering, piquing your curiosity. Bellman and Black is a great read for the fall, set in London of old and filled with weather blustery and vivid enough you can feel it. The raven or the rook is an enigmatic figure in Poe’s most famous work, and it is arguably the most important or overarching character in this story. It’s beauty is artfully described time and time again – changing forever the way you look at this mysterious creature.
William Bellman is the character at the center of Bellman and Black second to the rook. Setterfield chronicles his exciting yet sad life in a way that makes you feel that you have also lived it. This is one of those tales that draws you in so that you feel as though you are the main character and the story is playing out about you. Bellman is the son of a caring mother, both of whom were abandoned by his father. Throughout his life, he hovers on the edge of higher society, working his way up and accumulating wealth through constant hard work rather than inheritance. He is surrounded by characters both physically and ethereally, adding to the mystery of his story. From his uncles mill to his own grand masterpiece in London, Bellman works all hours of the day accumulating wealth and stature as he moves towards the crescendo of his life.
Denise Setterfield has created a modern dale Poe tale – in my opinion improving upon it or skillfully tailoring it to the taste of her modern audience. Death, the dark figure of the rook, tangible descriptions and a meandering story, Bellman and Black will keep you on your toes and wet your appetite for more. Love and loss, sickness and the journey back to health all plague William Bellman; but all the while his work never loses a day or seems to skip a beat. Gather your pumpkins and your coffee and curl up with this book to the music of the rustling multicolored leaves this Fall – and allow yourself to be drawn into this fabulous story. I myself, cannot wait to pick up her previous work The Thirteenth Tale.