Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale


Very few authors manage to fracture the English literature world with a powerful debut novel, and I consider Diane Setterfield as one of those few. The Thirteenth Tale combines the elements of gothic stories and the arousing voice of ghost tales with a hint of mystery in an exquisite narrative that doesn’t take itself too seriously (which is good). Those who love books that talk about the love of reading books will find something special within the pages of this novel.

The Thirteenth Tale is about the power of stories as much as it’s about the darker side of written fantasy. The narrator, Margaret Lea, is not so much living her life through books as avoiding her life with the use of books, especially since she runs her family bookstore. One day she receives a letter from Vida Winter, a famous novelist, asking her to come to Yorkshire and listen to her story and write her autobiography before she leaves the world of the living. And so begins a ghostly adventure of mystery, sorrow and discovery that consumes Margaret’s life and forces her to actively participate in the story in order to a reach a firm conclusion, and discovers the answers for her many questions.

Obviously, the main characters of this novel are Margaret Lea and Vida Winter, and both of them were brought to life nicely due to the simple and yet intricate writing. The most prominent aspect of the novel is the smart gradual unraveling of this mystery. It’s really hard to put down once you reach a part where you starve to know the next, and there are many parts that challenge you to do so. This is truly a pleasant book to read with extremely satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.



10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sushi on January 15, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Wanasa. I ran through a review on it recently, it sounds like an interesting book. I’ll check it out =)


  2. I bought that book! Now you’ve made me want to read it! Great review!


  3. Very nice!! I will be checking it out for sure! Its hard when you have a lot of books and no time to read the books!


  4. @Sushi

    I’m pretty sure you will find it enjoyable.


    Glad I was the source behind your motivation to read the book. I hope you find it enjoyable as well.


    Tell me about…with school works and stuff I hardly find the time to read. I’m gonna work on my schedule to manage reading books during regular weekdays.


  5. Posted by kinano on April 10, 2008 at 1:15 am

    I have this book on my “books-to-get” list. I’ve read some really good reviews about it.

    Have you read “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon? It follows the same gothic nature as well.


  6. @Kinano

    No I haven’t actually but I’ll make sure to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation 🙂


  7. I’ve read the book, and loved it.
    Greetings from Peru.


  8. By the way, that book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is really good, too. Full of suspense. Don’t miss it!
    Again, greetings from Peru.


  9. Lesbian….



  10. Posted by me on June 10, 2009 at 9:24 am

    i can’t remember the last time i loved a book so much. an utterly magical atmosphere that stays with you for a long time after you have closed the book. read it!


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