The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Review)

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People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them.

Margaret Lea receives a letter from the famous author Viva Winter. Viva Winter has asked her to come along and hear Viva tell the truth. Viva Winter starts to tell Margaret a story about a pair of twins, named Adeline and Emmeline, and a house named Angelfield.

The Thirteenth Tale was a hit and miss for me. The writing was splendid, but slightly heavy for me. After a couple of chapters I would feel exhausted. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is why it took me longer than usual to finish this. I had to linger on every word for fear of missing something. However, the writing created the perfect atmosphere for the story. I couldn’t have seen this story being told any other way. Therefore, the writing was both a positive and negative for me. The plot sometimes really caught my attention and I was being pulled along with the story, turning page after page, devouring it. But sometimes it completely lost my attention and I had to force myself to keep reading. So, why not rate it lower then, you ask? Well, that ending was magnificent! I had not seen the plot twist coming at all. I even had to put the book down for a little while to pull myself together and get my head on straight from the reeling it did from the plot twist. I just never saw it coming and it was something I would never have guessed, or even thought about for a fleeting moment. I adored how Setterfield managed to weave the story together, between past and present so delicately. Very well done.

I much preferred reading about Viva Winter’s story than Margaret’s. That is not to say I didn’t admire Margaret as a character. I did. She was great. She had a passion for books that made her really easy to relate to. The fact that twins are the main focus of this book made it so easy to relate to, (I am a twin myself). I found that Setterfield got the feeling of being a twin spot on. They are a part of your soul, and would you lose them, it would feel as though you lost a part of yourself. There is a closeness of twins that many people don’t get, but I think The Thirteenth Tale portrays the feeling really well. Adeline and Emmeline are both very interesting characters that really keep you invested in the story. But there were also so many others – Missus, John-the-Dig, and so many others I lost count of. All these characters are vital to the story and are written with so much care. I do applaud Setterfield on her characters.

A fantastic written book. It is such a shame that it was a hit and miss with me, but overall I did enjoy it and I would definitely recommend. I shall be reading more of Diane Setterfield

MY RATING: ★★★★☆
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