After this novel came out last September, it seemed like everybody was blogging about it. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, we could make it to Christmas without Papa Rooster hearing of it and purchasing it for himself!
Happily for me, it was a new title to him when he unwrapped it on Christmas morning--and he devoured it shortly after. As he handed it off to me, he asked, "Did you ever wonder where a story takes hold in your brain? I think maybe it's [indicating an area at the top of his head] right up in here..."
The Thirteenth Tale spins a mesmerizing web about the reader, introducing the tangled threads of a dark tale that can only sorted out as the story is told, bit by bit. But will there be time for its ending before the terminally ill narrator dies? Will her young biographer be able to search out the truth from the fragments of secrets half-told? What of the lives that remain? And the biographer's own story?
You can read more detailed reviews at Amazon, but they include a few hints of plot spoilers--and this is a story best unfolded at the author's pace. You might just like to know that everyone is comparing this debut novel to the works of the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens--for its characters, sweeping story, and Gothic romanticism, complete with carefully-guarded family secrets, ghosts, governesses, and old mansions gone to ruin. It is no copycat novel, though; the characters are real and original, and the author's rich, evocative use of language is in a more contemporary voice than the old classics. A broader audience will be able to enjoy this tale.
Besides the obvious comparisons to Jane Eyre (made by The Thirteenth Tale itself), this book reminded me of Daphe du Maurier's Rebecca, which I read in high school. They both have the same ghosts-in-the-mist aura of suspense, with a chilling plot twist at the end. If you enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale and are looking for another good read in a similar vein--do hunt up Rebecca, if you haven't read it before.
And if you haven't read The Thirteenth Tale....you have a gem of a story awaiting you! I'm eager to see what this author writes next.