Reading Frenzy

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Before you start reading The Thirteenth Tale, carve out a long afternoon, or a weekend to devote to it. Savor the prose, lose yourself in the gothic overtones. Enjoy it. This was my mistake--life and my lack of ability to focus kept interrupting my reading, and this is a book to be read leisurely, to be savored like a fine meal and good wine.

Getting past the fact that I undermined my opportunity to fully indulge myself, let me say that there's a lot to appreciate about this book. The cover, and even the inside cover is beautiful. The atmosphere created is pretty close to flawless. The writing is lush and gorgeous:

"There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic."

It's got all those points that make it classic gothic. But I did have a few issues. I thought some of the characters--particularly the twin sisters--could have been more fully developed. The ending felt a little rushed, and the plot a bit formulaic, the ending a bit unrealistic.

I'd probably give it 8 out of 10 stars. Definitely I'd like to reread it, but next time on a dark and stormy night, in a soft cushy chair, in front of a crackling fire, with a cat at my feet.

And if you read it, let me know what you thought. And don't miss the author's website: