Bellman & Black

Bellman & Black

Book - 2013
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Killing a bird with his slingshot as a boy, William Bellman grows up a wealthy family man unaware of how his act of childhood cruelty will have terrible consequences until a wrenching tragedy compels him to enter into a macabre bargain with a stranger in black.
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, 2013.
ISBN: 9781476711959
Branch Call Number: SETTERFIE D
Characteristics: 328 p. ; 24 cm.
Alternative Title: Bellman and Black


From Library Staff

What if a simple action you took as a child ends up haunting you as an adult, taking everything you care about and know and making it theirs? This dark, adventurous read will make you re-think how a subtle choice can ripple throughout the rest of your life.

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Jun 08, 2017

If you enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this book should be right up your alley. I wouldn't call it a mystery so much as an historical fantasy. Well written--it made me want to go find other books by Ms. Setterfield.

* * * * * Five stars

Sep 13, 2015

I kept reading this waiting for something to happen and nothing ever did. PG-13 for brief, mild, sex

Jul 31, 2015

The variety of reviews interest me. This is researched so well to explain how/why the Victorian era continues to influence many present day practices; how clothing mills progress; the details of cloth; the ravages of 19thC illnesses & how they devastate populations. Historical in nature. I'd like this in MP3 format so as not to keep changing discs.

Dec 12, 2014

A disappointment after her previous book. Started off okay, but got really slow! I found I wanted desperately to get away from the main character, super dull life, and not at all positive. Ugh, was so happy for it to end. The one thing that I did like was all the references to Corvids. Many interesting facts at each chapter. That part was fun.

JCLChristiH Oct 21, 2014

I'd classify this story as more of a beautifully Gothic historical fiction that would appeal to bird enthusiasts and those who enjoy the details of early Downton Abbey era England.

Jan 14, 2014

A satisfyingly dark and atmospheric Gothic tale, in which vaulting worldly ambition goes hand in hand with loss and clammy dread. But I wonder if the author was just a little too in love with her research into mid-Victorian funeral pomp. This would have worked as a long story or a novella, but at 300 pages it gets a bit sprawling and cluttered. One of the themes here is the arc of life and of story, but that arc itself isn't cleanly delineated in the telling. Not bad, just not as good as it could have been.

Jan 10, 2014

Captivating story-telling with well-crafted characters and luscious atmospheric prose. A wonderful read.

Jan 09, 2014

A fascinating story of how a small incident in one boy's life comes to haunt his every moment as a grown man. With details of historical fabric mills and life in Britain at a time when mourning was done up in black crepe or grey as the situation warranted, this clever "ghost" story is a serpentine way of getting to a very satisfying conclusion.

gracindaisy Jan 08, 2014

As a boy, a man remembers killing a rook with his slingshot; an act which haunts him his entire life.

Cdnbookworm Dec 27, 2013

This novel centers around William Bellman. When William is ten years old, her makes a challenge to himself in front of his friends that he can hit a bird with a shot from his slingshot, a shot that should be beyond him, but he does indeed hit the rook and kills him.
Years later his paternal uncle offers him a position at the family mill, and discovers that William has an aptitude for the work, good at analyzing, good with numbers, and good with people. William's father had run off when he was only an infant and his grandparents had cut William and his mother off from that side of the family, but his uncle is willing to buck the pressure and take a chance on William. And William's life changes forever.
But when a mysterious stranger begins to appear in William's life, his luck changes again, and doesn't change until William believes he makes a deal with the man.
William ends up building an empire in the business of death, providing not only funeral services, but also all the trappings for funerals and mourning. This part was particularly interesting to see the details of Victorian funeral conventions.
The rook theme introduced in William's youth also reappears again and again through the novel, perhaps associated with the mysterious stranger. I liked the chapters on rooks, each one giving an interesting term for a group of these birds.
This is a tale of a man's life, triumphs and regrets, happiness and sorrow. And an underlying fear that follows him throughout.

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