So I read "The Thirteenth Tale" eons ago. This book came out in 2006 and I recall starting it around Christmas time that same year. I fell in love with the book. Too bad I could not get into Setterfield's follow-up "Bellman & Black". I can't even tell you much about that second book except I fell asleep reading it and just took it back to the library the next day. This was back before I posted reviews about books I DNFed.
Back to "The Thirteenth Tale" though. This book has everything. You got a Gothic style mystery with all kinds of twists and turns about a family called Angelfield. For me the best parts of the book are the ones in which Vida Winter tells her story. Margaret who has been brought to write a biographer of Vida Winter I found to not be interesting in the least little bit. She has her own story, but it's honestly not as intriguing as Vida Winter.
I tend to re-read this book every year or so, and I just finished it again when I was on my vacation to Seattle/Portland. I don't know why on a flight to Seattle I said to myself that I must read a Gothic mystery novel, but there you go. I did.
The book begins with Margaret getting a request to come and learn about Vida Winter's life and write her life story. Margaret is vaguely familiar with Vida Winter and goes and reads a copy of Winter's book called "Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation" the only issue is that there are only 12 stories, not 13, which led to many in the literary world to wonder about the so-called 13th tale.
I liked that in the end the only thing that kept Margaret on to listen to Vida's tale was for her to promise to tell her a ghost story. And there were many ghosts in her story.
The secondary characters in this one do frighten at times and what you learn about them and what they have done, you can see why Vida Winter has stories featuring ghosts.
I really loved the writing. I could picture all of the characters and Angelfield in my mind.
There is a twist in the end that I did not see coming. I remember being gobsmacked in a good way when all is revealed. I don't know if older me would have picked up on it or not though. I like to think not, I love books that genuinely surprise you.