Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: The Thirteenth Tale

The word "thirteen" in a title often grabs my attention. There's a popular superstition of it being an unlucky number, and I love going against superstition.

Anyway, what got me more attracted to this is the pile of books in the cover. It hints that it will involve about the love for books. Now who else will understand that more other than an actual book lover? Hehe.

I read the plot at the back, and it promised me an interesting story with good gothic mystery. I've heard that it's a good book so I didn't think twice on buying it when I first saw it.

I only had time to read it during the holidays. I had been busy in visiting relatives and going to tourist spots during those days. But on times when I was just lazing around, I read this novel. To my surprise, I've managed to finish it earlier than I had planned. It was really good!

The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
Vida Winter, the most famous novelist in England and quite possibly the world, has never been forthcoming when it comes to her past. Her entire life is a secret, and for fifty years reporters and biographers have attempted to discover the truth. With her health quickly fading, Ms. Winter enlists a bookish amateur biographer named Margaret Lea to bear witness to the tragic story of the Angelfield family, their eccentric beginnings as well as their demise. Margaret, who has family secrets of her own, must unravel the mysteries of the past in order to reconcile not only Miss Winter with her ghosts, but also Margaret with her own.
==== What I Liked:
  • There had been several stories in just one novel. I love how they have been put together. You don't only get to read the stories of the actual characters, but even portions of those the novelist character has written or made up.
  • I'm happy that we also get to know what happens on the minor characters. Some may not have such a huge role in the main plot, but it still feels like there's something missing if what happened to them afterwards hadn't been mentioned. It will suck if they just come and go.
  • I like the twists in this story. I like it when things I don't expect happen (fine, some were expected, but most honestly weren't). I also really love it when a novel makes me confused and lost for a while because of some things that don't make sense but will later things will be so crystal clear. I love mystery but I don't like it when most parts will remain a mystery until the end.
  • I really like the narration style and the switch in points of view. They are in-character (how they narrated events had been different. There is also development or changes in narration style even if it's by the same character); and you get a different perspective of certain events but they're not exactly repetitive (but if it had been, that only shows confirmation that the first narration was accurate because of the risk of it being a lie).
  • I like the idea on what "ghost" the story had been referring to. You don't always have to take it so literally.
==== What I Did Not Like:
  • Though I did love the narration style, the part of the giant recalling what was narrated to him seems to unnatural. I mean, to be able to recall all those words in such detail and style? Like he's impersonating the original narrator? That's just too awkward . . .
  • I think most of the main cast have mental problems. I know these problems are inheritable, but I don't think there's a problem in having some main characters that aren't delusional, right?
  • I understand the love for books in this novel but I don't think it has to go to such extremes. *sigh* I don't want book lovers to follow such an example and have delusions like those.
==== Fangurling:
  • I love the cast but I find it difficult to pick a favorite character. I don't hate a particular character either (but hhhmm . . . Margaret's becoming a close candidate. I want her to get over it already.)
  • I don't have a favorite pairing but I'm fond of the Charlie and Isabelle relationship. The obsession is pretty creepy, but that's what got me so intrigued~ Fortunately, the incest here appears to be one-sided, so I wasn't disturbed. Hehe.
  • The part with Ambrose and the writer had been pretty romantic . . . but for their short romance to break just like that. It got me pretty frustrated.
  • I think this novel had shown different types of sibling/cousin love in their extremes. The "extreme" part got me a little disturbed, but I adore sibling love and can sympathize with them since I have a sibling myself~
==== Comparing to Other Books:
I can't compare it to the books it's using as basis (specifically the likes of Jane Eyre, Woman in White, etc.). Apparently, they're even the favorite novels of the main characters (I would choose the Sherlock Holmes novel over their favorites anytime though, unlike what the main character did). I don't like the implication of those classics being the best because they're the favorites of our book loving characters.

Anyway, back to what I'm trying to say: I can't compare this novel to those popular classics because I haven't really read those in the first place (I only have an idea of the overall events thanks to book reports done by my schoolmates).

Except for Wuthering Heights, because it has been the one assigned to me. Hhhmm . . . okay, between the two novels (WH and TTT) . . . I can't say which is better but I like the story in Wuthering Heights more. The Thirteenth Tale may be more complex but Wuthering Heights was just more charming to me. Hehe.

==== Overall Thoughts:
This has been an enchanting yet eerie novel. For some reason its words had some magic that draws me in and makes me keep on reading. It had managed to give me some chills too, because I had troubles in reading it alone in a room at night, hehe.

Of course it's not without flaws, but overall it has been beautifully presented that it had been easy for me to ignore most of them. This book had me so thrilled~

This may not be one of my top favorite books, but I do love it very much and consider it as one of the greatest novels I've ever read~ I'm definitely checking out the author's next novel once it's out~

==== Verdict:
Rating: A- (OH MY GOD! Amazing, fantastic, oh really wonderful!)
Favoritism: 3 out of 5 Hearts ---> LIKE

1 comment:

  1. Hee, I just recently borrowed 13th tale from the library and I'm looking forward to reading it. (Cover IS very shiny. =D)

    BTW, Haz award for you here. Rock on. =D