I’m coming back to my blog to write about this book because I have a lot of feelings about it and I’m like one of those people who only creates a Yelp account to gripe about a bad experience. THIS REVIEW VERY MUCH CONTAINS SPOILERS. But I think you shouldn’t read this book, so perhaps it doesn’t matter.
I’m sorry. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. And I LOVED The Thirteenth Tale. But this book was terrible. I feel bad saying it. I sort of hate myself. Have I ever written a book? No. Do I think I could ever? No. Do I know what effort and time and blood and tears it takes? No. Do I feel like a shit for spitting on someone else’s effort? Yes.
But I have to say it. It wasn’t good. It was a valiant effort, but it was a really huge struggle to finish this. I was so, so bored from start to finish. I did not care one single bit about William Bellman. Everyone else felt like a cardboard cut-out of a character. It felt like the reader is supposed to admire William as a protagonist, and possibly sympathize with him, but I found him selfish and horrible.
Worst, though, is that his childish act of rook murder seems to bring a curse down on him, but I failed to see where his punishment began and normal hardship ended. He lived a relatively normal life, built a family, built two immensely successful businesses, and died of old age. Yes, bad things happened, but nothing felt out of the norm of what could feasibly happen to a person living in Victorian times.
The excruciatingly detailed accounts of the cloth mill and later his business in the funeral industry make reading this even more painful. I don’t care about the processes or the numbers. Why include them? Why repeat very similar scenes regarding these details? I just don’t understand.
Then there’s the rooks that flutter in and out of the narrative. I understand that they’re following him, or watching him, or maybe influencing his life? Are they trying to turn him mad? What exactly is their end goal? What is the deal he makes with the mysterious man in black? We never really discover the purpose of their finally meeting for the first time. There are interludes introducing details about the biology, sociology, and mythology of rooks, but the purpose of these interludes is unclear.
I’ve seen reviews that call this book spooky, but I didn’t get that at all. I’ve seen alternate covers that call this “A Ghost Story.” How?! If that was the idea, it was so poorly conveyed that I literally never picked up on it.
If you’ve thought of this one, just pass. And hope that her next novel is better.