Bellman & Black
By Diana Setterfield
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 336 pgs. 2013.
I listened to this novel in hopes that it would be as intensely entertaining as Setterfield's other book, The Thirteenth Tale. While an interesting look into a deal with a mysterious man and then workings of a fabric mill then an emporium that sales anything and everything you need for funerals and mourning, it fell short on the mystery and dark characters that I liked so much in the other book.
William Bellman is introduced as a boy in the English countryside with his friends. He kills a rook with a slingshot and that becomes a small theme of the book. It never got creepy enough for me. The rooks were in the background as an omen, but never really used to their strength. Through disease and other incidents, he starts to lose people in his life and William makes a deal with a stranger in black. William loses himself to his successful and macabre store of all things dealing with death and even though a daughter is spared there is little interaction. The stranger in black shows up every now and then and the rest of the characters are minor and not really built up. In the end I didn't really care what happened to William Bellman and felt like the book just fell short.