Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Rating: 8/10

Published: 2006
Number of pages: 459

Started: 7 July 2008
Finished: 15 July 2008

Summary (taken from blurb):

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family - fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie, her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmaline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates...

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield's past - and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has the house been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret's own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfield's spell?

The Thirteenth Tale is an engaging and atmospheric gothic novel, and Setterfield reveals herself as an excellent story-teller. Having a booklover narrate the story helped me to identify with Margaret, the main character, and there are some lovely insights on reading.

The story is very well developed and the mystery is built up nicely. I wouldn't say it was suspenseful, but I was kept very interested in learning the outcome, which I didn't guess beforehand. I like that not everything was resolved, and also that the story had no definite time setting; it helped add to the mystery.

The main problems I had with the book were Margaret's obsession with her twin, which came on a little strongly, and I also felt that the Angelfield family were a little too unbelievable as characters. They were all so remote as to not even seem human most of the time, and in the time setting that I had concocted in my mind, they seemed very out of place (actually, when I tried to place them at different points in time, they didn't seem to fit anywhere).

Overall, a very enjoyable book; different and full of intrigue. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Lucy Diamond said...

Couldn't have put it better myself! You're right about the Angelfields - there was something almost too unbelievably feral about several of them, now that I think of it.
Nice to have found your blog... I'll be back!