Diane Setterfield is the Vida Winter to my Margaret Lea. Just as Miss Winter's books ensnared Margaret Lea, The Thirteenth Tale ensnared me, however I didn't have the luxury of doing nothing but reading this enthralling book. Unlike my counterpart, Miss Lea. When I did have time to read I found myself pulled into the mysterious world created by Ms. Setterfield. Where secrets existed in abundance, where books are a central element, where words were chosen with obvious thought, and I lost track of time.
At the beginning of the book Vida Winter makes one request of Margaret, that there is no "jumping about in the story." She mustn't cheat or skip ahead by asking any questions, "everything in it's proper place," start to finish. And while Margaret was dependent on Miss Winter to finish the story, the reader doesn't have any such restrictions and is free to jump to the end at any point in time. I must admit that there were points in the story where I was tempted, but when Margaret agreed to Miss Winter's conditions so did I and anxiously I waited to find out if my theories were correct.
While this book is incredibly well crafted, the mystery at the center of this tale was obvious to me, although it did not under any circumstances detract from the books enjoyability or the suspense that built over the course of the story. Ms. Setterfield obviously has a knack for the Gothic genre. There were also questions I accumulated throughout the book, some were tied up neatly at the end, other not so much, but I'm one of those people who doesn't favor a tidy little bow at the end. Because I'm still left wondering, the book hasn't ended for me yet and probably never will.
This was and is a book that I hope never ends, that I hope I'm always left wondering about. Toward the end of the book Margaret is lost in her thoughts after being summoned to Miss Winter's side and I feel like her musings perfectly describe how I feel now that I've finished the last page with the prospect of starting a new book.
"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes-characters even-caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you. Well, it was like that."