Based in Brisbane, Australia, Bindro's Bookshelf is a blog by Jade. Her posts explore the book lover life through book reviews, discussion posts and taking on too many reading challenges in the year.

Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale was Diane Setterfield's debut novel in 2006. Please note that this review does not contain spoilers. If you have read this book, you know how hard this review was to write without them.

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The Thirteenth Tale

By Diane Setterfield | Standalone

My rating: 5 stars  |  Pages: 456

What made me pick it up: Travelling Book Group Pick

Format: Physical  |  Source: Friend

2018 challenge/s: BookRiot ReadHarder; Goodreads Reading Challenge

Please be aware that this book contains incest, sibling abuse and self-harm. While mental illnesses are implied with a few of the characters, it is not explicitly stated. If any of these issues is a trigger to you, please consider whether this book is for you.
— Trigger Warning

Where does one begin to summarise The Thirteenth Tale? 

It's a story about a bookseller turned amateur biographer. It's a story about twins. It's a story about siblings. It's a story about what lengths you are prepared to go for your family or what the love of your family members may cause you to do. It's about hidden identities. It's about a family. It's about a garden. It's about an old grand house falling apart as it's inhabitants do. It's a ghost story.

But it's so much more than that. 

It is a love letter to books, in particular, the gothic stories that have hidden mysteries you need to uncover such as Jane Eyre or Rebecca. It is for the readers who love them and indeed, you will want to add Angelfield to the list with the likes of Manderley and Thornfield Hall. 

The Angelfield family has many secrets to be uncovered and as a reader, you, along with the main character, Margaret, are swept along for the ride. You will be eager to put together the clues. But a word of warning, Miss Winter does prefer a good story to the truth.

While the book definitely lends itself to the dark side when going back into the past, there are some lighter scenes, my favourite is when the doctor is diagnosing Margaret based on her literary taste and he prescribes stories of Sherlock Holmes which made me so happy. 

If you are a fan of family sagas, rambling estates and love a good sibling story, you will be hooked. If you are a book lover, and you happen to have enjoyed Jane Eyre, this book will have something a little bit extra for you as well.

A big thank you to my international travelling book group, as the book was one of the member's picks. I would not have bumped this book up my TBR as high as I did otherwise. I only read Jane Eyre for the first time last year and Rebecca the year before that, and I can firmly say that these atmospheric, suspenseful, gothic novels are one of my favourite types of books to read. 

There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
— Diane Setterfield

2018 Reading Challenges: 


Have you read The Thirteenth Tale? How does it compare with the gothic novels you have read such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

5 stars.



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