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3.9 out of 5
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  • Haunting, beautiful, gripping

    I know this book will stay with me for quite some time: not only the story but the imagery and the underlying messages. Recommended if you enjoy Natasha Pulley

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    1 person found this review helpful

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  • A Crow's eye view

    Is there a crow silently watching as I write this? This is a dark, unsettling story. Is the mysterious Black a personification of death? An avatar of the crows? Or a doppelganger of Bellman himself? Bellman himself at the outset is an energetic young man with a loving wife and young family. As a boy he killed a crow with a single unlikely shkt from his catapult. After a moment of regret he put it behind him. Now his business is flourishing as he takes advantage of the technological advances of the Victorian era. Disaster strikes with a plague, and the sudden, violent death of his wife and 3 of his children. Intent on suicide, he encounters the mysterious Black. He leaves believing that he has exchanged a contract for the life of his remaining child. So continues an eerie and disturbing story of one man's flight from grief and emotional pain. It's grounded in a convincing description of workaday life on the rural fringes, and details of Victorian mourning customs. Setterfield is a lovely writer, fluent but measured. She writes with sympathy of people and their predicaments. There is no happy resolution for her characters or her readers. But we are left with the expectation that life will go on and unfold as it should.

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    1 person found this review helpful

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  • A special novel

    A new take on the theme of mortality and endeavour. An enjoyable read y a creative writer.

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