Registered by FuryIII on 12/20/2006
The Thirteenth Tale is perfectly gothic, but far from perfect. Author Setterfield draws heavily on Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and Rebecca without ever quite hitting the mark, though the story is engrossing and enjoyable. I don't think a house has ever lived quite so richly as Daphne DuMaurier's Manderley, and Setterfield's story lacks the richness and vividness that would really bring Angelfield to life. There is even a hint of DuMaurier's The Scapegoat in the story's theme of twins. The story's voice tends to wander from influence to influence without finding a voice of its own. Some secondary characters are satisfyingly fleshed out, while others are nearly caricature. Setterfield certainly captures the experience of reading, of being drawn into another world, but The Thirteenth Tale never quite achieves that. Still, I'd recommend this book because the story is interesting, and better written than so much of what masquerades for literature. Some of my frustration with the execution stems from the fact that I liked the story and wanted it to be more than it was. Setterfield definitely shows promise and bears watching.