Historical fiction · Mystery

The Thirteenth Tale…a romantic ghost story?

Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Published: Washington Square Press, 2007
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Length: 432 pages
Rating: 7/10

I found The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield in Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach last summer. I’d heard good things about it, but the description on the book jacket was cumbersome & I honestly wasn’t sure how much I was going to like it. But it was a wonderfully written mystery that felt like an old-fashioned ghost story.

The book centers around an ailing author, Vida Winter, who tells her life story to a young female biographer Margaret Lea. Winter lives in a spooky countryside mansion & Margaret moves in for the duration of Winter’s story telling. Winter’s tale is dark, mysterious & interesting and through her story The Thirteenth Tale reads like a puzzle. You find out about Winter’s ancestors, which leads to her abnormal childhood & eventually to her current near-death-state, surrounded by the ghosts of her past. And Winter’s tale starts to intertwine with the present and Lea’s life as well.

The Thirteenth Tale was absorbing and beautifully written. It rambled a little, but I enjoyed it enough that it didn’t bother me. The characters were interesting. I’m excited to see what Setterfield writes next!


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