The Thirteenth (Perfect) Tale

July 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews)

The very first morning I walked into Half Price Books as an employee, it was a cool April.  I was wearing my favorite olive green sweater, the sleeves curled just perfectly around my fidgety fingers; too excited to be stilled they fondled the woven material with angst.  My boss was giving me the grand tour, and that’s when I saw it for the first time – the name Audrey Niffenegger.  It was a hardback copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife, it had shoes on the cover, one large men’s pair, one small little girl’s pair.  That’s what drew me to her work first.  By the next day, I had devoured the book.

Later, she came out with Her Fearful Symmetry, which I loved even more.  I am addicted to Niffenegger’s strange, yet perfect stories, her intense writing is something to be reckoned with.  The feeling you can’t let go of once the book has ended is something like no other.

Several years later, still working at Half Price and in charge of the fiction/literature section, my safe haven, my heaven, my home away from home, a place at which I spent many happy hours of sweat and tears and occasional splinters, I stumbled across something new.  It was a dark book, it caught my eye because the cover seemed to radiate the ambiance of ‘If you love books at all, you’ll love me.’  It was Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind.  He was compared to Umberto Eco and Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the jacket.  I devoured it.  Again, I was in love.

Those moments, now being properly relayed so that you may understand the depth of my love at first sight memories of these two author’s work can only help define how high a compliment it is for me to say:  If Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry and Ruiz’s Shadow of the Wind were to have a love child, it would be Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale.

The Thirteenth Tale moved me in a way I am only moved so rarely for someone who reads so often.  Having worked now in a bookstore these past four and half years, I have become both desensitized and overly inspired by everything.  Everything interests me with its prospects, the possibility of discovering magic within the pages of something new, as I have in the past.  But most things slightly disappoint with their lack of fervor, their severe void of original thought, or the absence of a classic feel.

The Thirteenth Tale is missing nothing.  It is rich, full, thorough; it is mysterious and ghostly, beautifully gothic.  It is a perfectly woven tale.  Vida Winter could quite possibly be my favorite heroine of all time.

The Thirteenth Tale for sale on

Time Traveler’s Wife for sale too:


  1. Interested said,

    My daughter just gave me this book. I can’t wait to read it. and I lover your reviews. I don’t always comment but I read everything you write. Keep up the good work!!

  2. Do You Believe in Ghosts? | Anakalian Whims said,

    […] first time I read this book it was July of 2011. I was no longer on maternity leave, but my daughter still seemed very, very […]

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