A novel as unpredictable as it is beautiful

If I have one regret after reading The Thirteenth Tale, it is that I will never be able to read it for the first time ever again.

In this book about stories, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is centered on an Agatha Christie-type author in the late 1800s (I think, that is never actually confirmed) and her past that she has worked hard to keep a secret until her last days. Vida Winters hires bookseller and sometimes-writer Margaret Lea to write the story of her childhood and life before she rose to fame. Vida has never before opened up about her early years, instead telling countless journalists fictional backstories--the crazier the better. As Vida begins to reveal the secrets of her family, the truth seems to be stranger than fiction, and Margaret doesn't know if the famed fiber is finally telling the truth.


The Thirteenth Tale progresses on two tracks: one is the story Vida is reciting to Margaret about her family and her past, and the other is Margaret's investigation of Vida's story. I could not get enough of Vida's family history. I did not predict a single event throughout the story, and every time a new truth came to light, I was left shocked. Until the very end, I couldn't have predicted the truth.


Vida's story read like a gothic mystery, and there were several times that I wondered if the truth would end up having a supernatural element. Diane Setterfield's writing was absolutely beautiful throughout the entire book. Not only is The Thirteenth Tale an amazing story, but it is also a love letter to the art of storytelling and the importance of books in our lives.


The Thirteenth Tale is housed in the historical fiction section of Blue House Books, but it can easily be categorized as a mystery, thriller, literary fiction, and possibly even fantasy (I'll let you decide for yourself).

Sam Jacquest is the owner of Blue House Books. She graduated from Oxford Brookes University in the UK with a Master of the Arts degree in Publishing. After struggling to find a publishing job in the Midwest, Sam decided to start her own business, and Blue House Books was born. Sam strives to bring the love of reading to her community through her store, events, and literacy programs. Sam is also a freelance editor, and loves that reading and being surrounded by books is her full time job!


Recent Posts

See All