Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Tirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield
First published September 10th, 2006
Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of Gothic strangeness—featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

This, unexpectedly, was a great story ; when I started I had low expectations because I didn't think it was my kind of book, but I had heard such good things about it that I wanted to give it a try. So to my surprise, I loved it. The story is dark and gloomy, but very compelling and definitely creepy at parts.

This very old woman who is a famous writer with no known past finally decides to tell her story. And quite the mystical story it is! The writing gives an old feel to the book, like a 19th century novel, with scandals, ghosts, creepy children, and tons of mystery. Setterfield does a great job of really pulling you in. You not only care about the unveiling of the mystery, but the story itself to which you want to know all the details as it unfolds. As for the unveiling, it was unpredictable. It was brilliant. It's what changed my "to be" 4 star rating to 5. My guesses were in the right direction, but I never quite caught on to it, and I doubt many will. I could see this becoming a great classic.

5/5 hot espressos