4.5 Stars. What a lovely book to end (probably) the year on. The Thirteenth Tale is one of those books that’s been floating around on my TBR forever, but just never made it to the top until now. I’m so glad it did! Setterfield is clearly a very talented writer. The Thirteenth Tale has quite a complex plot, weaving together many stories from different time periods with several narrators (and a few unreliable ones). Yet, for all its complexity, it really works. Consider me a fan.
Margaret Lea lives a simple life helping her father run a quiet bookshop and writing the occasional essay on 19th century literature which she is an expert in. Her simple life gets a little complicated when she receives a letter asking her to write the biography of the most famous writer since Dickens, Vida Winter. Winter is notoriously mysterious, so Margaret has good reason to be intrigued. Of course, Winter’s request stirs up events and feelings in Margaret’s life that she could never predict.
The best thing aside from the tight plotting is the mood this book conveys. It name checks lots of literature, but none as much as Jane Eyre. If you like Jane Eyre or gothic literature, you’ll probably like The Thirteenth Tale. There is a ghostly mood to the book that would make it more at home on shelves between Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights than contemporary fiction. It’s exactly the kind of well-spun gothic mystery that makes you want to immediately pick it back up again after finishing it.