94 books like Bellman & Black

By Diane Setterfield,

Here are 94 books that Bellman & Black fans have personally recommended if you like Bellman & Black. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Women in Black

Kate Strasdin Author Of The Dress Diary: Secrets from a Victorian Woman's Wardrobe

From my list on featuring fashion.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember I have been absolutely gripped by the stories that old clothes can tell. From visiting fashion museums as a child to collecting books on the subject, I was drawn to the shapes, the fabrics, and the tales. I can remember a curator once telling me that clothes are the closest we can get to people in the past. They are the ghostly outlines of our ancestors and that has stayed with me. We give so much away about ourselves through the clothes we choose to wear and so they really do matter.

Kate's book list on featuring fashion

Kate Strasdin Why did Kate love this book?

Set in a mid-century department store, this wonderful short novel details life in a mid-20th-century frock department through the eyes of the women who worked there.

It is a book that highlights the importance of clothing in women’s lives at that time and the very specific kinds of garments. The tale follows Lisa as the news sales assistant in Cocktail Frocks and the friends she makes along the way. It is a sharply observed, funny, and tender story bringing the old department store alive.

By Madeleine St John,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Women in Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Madeleine St John weaves a fairytale which illuminates the extraordinariness of ordinary lives.


Book cover of The Corset

Kate Strasdin Author Of The Dress Diary: Secrets from a Victorian Woman's Wardrobe

From my list on featuring fashion.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember I have been absolutely gripped by the stories that old clothes can tell. From visiting fashion museums as a child to collecting books on the subject, I was drawn to the shapes, the fabrics, and the tales. I can remember a curator once telling me that clothes are the closest we can get to people in the past. They are the ghostly outlines of our ancestors and that has stayed with me. We give so much away about ourselves through the clothes we choose to wear and so they really do matter.

Kate's book list on featuring fashion

Kate Strasdin Why did Kate love this book?

I do love a novel with history and objects at the core and The Corset adds an extra layer of spine tingling to the mix as well.

Ruth is a poorly paid seamstress, awaiting trial for murder. She is visited by the well-to-do Dorothea who wants to hear her story. The object, the corset, lies at the heart of Ruth’s tale and every stitch that she made in the creation of high-end pieces for her mistress begins to carry a greater significance.

In a world of fast fashion I have become increasingly fascinated by the handmade, the art of the needle, and the skill of the maker and here it has a slightly sinister facet to it.

By Laura Purcell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Corset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Laura is a masterful writer, her deliciously gothic stories so skilfully woven that you can't get them out of your head even if you wanted to' Stacey Halls, author of The Familiars 'The Corset is a contender for my Book of the Year. Beautifully written, intricately plotted, a masterpiece' Sarah Hilary Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain? Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder. When Dorothea's charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she finds herself drawn to Ruth, a teenage seamstress - and self-confessed…


Book cover of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Kate Strasdin Author Of The Dress Diary: Secrets from a Victorian Woman's Wardrobe

From my list on featuring fashion.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember I have been absolutely gripped by the stories that old clothes can tell. From visiting fashion museums as a child to collecting books on the subject, I was drawn to the shapes, the fabrics, and the tales. I can remember a curator once telling me that clothes are the closest we can get to people in the past. They are the ghostly outlines of our ancestors and that has stayed with me. We give so much away about ourselves through the clothes we choose to wear and so they really do matter.

Kate's book list on featuring fashion

Kate Strasdin Why did Kate love this book?

I love the importance of objects that lies at the very centre of this book.

It is easy to write off the idea of fashion as superficial and unimportant but through the eyes of Mrs Harris and her ambitions to own a Dior dress from Paris, we can appreciate the beauty of a garment, the joy of its construction and the skill of its makers.

When cleaning lady Mrs. Harris sees a Dior dress hanging in the wardrobe of one of her clients, she dares to dream that she might one day own one. The quest takes her to Paris and to the atelier of Dior, with friendships emerging along the way.

By Paul Gallico,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charmed by her employers' beautiful wardrobe, Mrs. 'Arris, a London charwoman, visits the Dior salon in Paris


Book cover of The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

Kate Strasdin Author Of The Dress Diary: Secrets from a Victorian Woman's Wardrobe

From my list on featuring fashion.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember I have been absolutely gripped by the stories that old clothes can tell. From visiting fashion museums as a child to collecting books on the subject, I was drawn to the shapes, the fabrics, and the tales. I can remember a curator once telling me that clothes are the closest we can get to people in the past. They are the ghostly outlines of our ancestors and that has stayed with me. We give so much away about ourselves through the clothes we choose to wear and so they really do matter.

Kate's book list on featuring fashion

Kate Strasdin Why did Kate love this book?

I have long been fascinated by the stories of those people working behind the scenes of well-known historical events, the ordinary people whose tales are so often neglected.

I am an embroiderer and so found this novel about two young women in post-war London working for the famous couturier Norman Hartnell, very touching. Whilst a fictional account, the author undertook wonderful research to learn about the embroiderers who worked for Hartnell in the creation of Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding gown in 1947.

This is the story of two of them, told through fragments of fabric, something very close to my heart.

By Jennifer Robson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

USA Today Bestseller!

A Real Simple Best Historical Fiction novels of the year!

"The Gown is marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war."--Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century-Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown-and the fascinating women who made it.

"Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel."

-Sir Winston…


Book cover of Angels & Insects: Two Novellas

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

Actually, two novellas, it’s the first, "Morpho Eugenia," that’s always stayed in my mind. I loved how it handles discussions on such subjects as teleology, determinism/personal freedom, the nature of life after death, and so on, the post-On the Origin of the Species mindset.

I particularly like the ending, which, if you’re reasonably alert, you’ll work out well before our protagonist. I don’t think this is a weakness; observing the main character, Adamson (note the surname), flailing towards an inevitable ‘reveal’ is part of the book’s point, I think.

The prose imitates Victorian literature, very post-Modern, but don’t let that put you off. I found its style immersive, making me feel closer to the time.

By A. S. Byatt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Angels & Insects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In these two “astonishing” novellas (The New Yorker), the Booker Prize-winning author of Possession returns to the landscape of Victorian England, where science and spiritualism are popular manias, and domestic decorum coexists with brutality and perversion.

"At once quirky and deep, brimming with generosity, imagination, and intelligence." —The New Yorker

In Morpho Eugenia, an explorer realises that the behaviour of the people around him is alarmingly similar to that of the insects he studies. In The Conjugal Angel, curious individuals – some fictional, others drawn from history – gather to connect with the spirit world. Throughout both, Byatt examines the…


Book cover of The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories

Kyle Sullivan Author Of Krampus Confidential

From my list on delivering holiday magic with a dark twist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a child, Halloween and Christmas have held equally hallowed positions in my heart. When I learned of Krampus folklore in my teens, I was immediately fascinated. Krampus offered the best of both worlds—a dose of Halloween creepiness to counterbalance the bright jubilation of the winter holidays. Krampus Confidential, a middle-grade mystery, and adaptation of The Maltese Falcon, is my second children’s book that aims to introduce this magnificent creature to children in a way that doesn’t inspire nightmares. My first, Goodnight Krampus, is a board book for young readers that reimagines the monster as a rambunctious toddler who gives Santa a hard time by refusing to go to sleep on Christmas Eve.

Kyle's book list on delivering holiday magic with a dark twist

Kyle Sullivan Why did Kyle love this book?

Though the stories in this collection aren’t likely to scare you silly, they will almost certainly give you the creeps. The Victorians loved spending their cold, dark winter evenings with eerie tales of the unsettling, the uncanny, and the unholy. And who could blame them? The 13 tales collected here are diverse in content and tone, but they all offer an ideal candlelit escape when the days grow dark and the cold wind wails.

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Walter Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first-ever collection of Victorian Christmas ghost stories, culled from rare 19th-century periodicals

During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. Now for the first time thirteen of these tales are collected here, including a wide range of stories from a diverse group of authors, some well-known, others anonymous or forgotten. Readers whose only previous experience with Victorian Christmas ghost stories has been Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” will be surprised and delighted at the astonishing variety of…


Book cover of The Face in the Glass: The Gothic Tales of Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Lisa Morton Author Of Haunted Tales: Classic Stories of Ghosts and the Supernatural

From my list on collections of classic ghost stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I've discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening.

Lisa's book list on collections of classic ghost stories

Lisa Morton Why did Lisa love this book?

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915) may not be known by most contemporary readers...and that's a shame because her stories often include pointed observations about human nature that remain as relevant today as they were when first published. This wonderful collection, part of the superb British Library Tales of the Weird series, begins with an eerie and tragic ghost story, "The Cold Embrace," and ends with the lengthy "Good Lady Ducayne," which is often classified as an early vampire tale. 

By Mary Elizabeth Braddon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Face in the Glass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young girl whose love for her fiance continues even after her death; a sinister old lady with claw-like hands who cares little for the qualities of her companions provided they are young and full of life; and a haunted mirror that foretells of approaching death for those who gaze into its depths. These are just some of the haunting tales gathered together in this macabre collection of short stories. Reissued in the Tales of the Weird series and introduced by British Library curator Greg Buzwell, The Face in the Glass is the first selection of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's supernatural…


Book cover of Tamsin

Brita Sandstrom Author Of Hollow Chest

From my list on a cat sidekick who is secretly the main character.

Why am I passionate about this?

All the best books have a cat sidekick. Over and over, when people talk to me about my book, they pause in the middle of whatever they were about to say and go, “Oh my gosh, Biscuits,” and then launch into a list of things Biscuits the cat does, and how they are similar to things their cats have done, presumably up to and including throwing hands (paws?) with horrifying monsters that want to eat your heart. Biscuits is the latest in a long and proud tradition of literary feline companions, an essential element of many of my favorite and formative texts growing up. 

Brita's book list on a cat sidekick who is secretly the main character

Brita Sandstrom Why did Brita love this book?

Mr. Cat is a ride-or-die. Mr. Cat walks the line that all cats do in the real world, in that he doesn’t actually have magic powers and he can’t actually talk, he is at the end of the day a little animal that lives in Jenny’s house, but also he would bite a ghost without hesitation. It’s Peter S. Beagle’s complete mastery of voice and tone that enable Jenny and Mr. Cat to walk that line so effortlessly. Because the fantastical is grounded so deeply in the real world, the stakes feel so high that I first read this book in one breathless sitting, afraid to look away. 

By Peter S. Beagle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tamsin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Arriving in the English countryside to live with her mother and new stepfather, Jenny has no interest in her surroundings until she meets Tamsin. Since her death over 300 years ago, Tamsin has haunted the lonely estate without rest, trapped by a hidden trauma she can't remember, and a powerful evil even the spirits of night cannot name. To help her, Jenny must delve deeper into the dark world than any human has in hundreds of years, and face danger that will change her life forever.


Book cover of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Bryan L. Young Author Of A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination

From my list on morbidly curious kids and their adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a nerd for the morbid for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I tore through all the books on the shelves in my house, whether they were appropriate for my age group or not. I started tearing into Stephen King books at 8 or so. I remember vividly copying language out of Christine when I was about 10 on the playground and getting in a lot of trouble for it. But I turned out okay. I really do believe that kids have a fascination for things above their age range, and adults enjoy it, too, and I still love all of these.

Bryan's book list on morbidly curious kids and their adults

Bryan L. Young Why did Bryan love this book?

This is another book that really hit me right between the eyes as a kid, and revisiting it with my kids as an adult, it’s nothing short of just creepy weirdness.

Guillermo Del Toro once said that kids' stories should be frightening, and this definitely fits the bill. The best part about it is how short the stories are, too, so I was able to break it up with my kid into a number of sittings.

By Alvin Schwartz, Brett Helquist (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a classic collection of chillingly scary tales, in which Alvin Schwartz offers up some of the most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time, complemented in this paperback edition by spine-tingling illustrations by renowned artist Brett Helquist. Walking corpses, dancing bones, knife-wielding madmen, and narrow escapes from death-they're all here in this chilling collection of ghost stories. Make sure you read these books with the light ON!


Book cover of Sir Simon: Super Scarer

Jacqueline Rogers Author Of Goblin Moon

From my list on Halloween illustrated.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up next to a cemetery, and being an avid young artist, I loved to draw all kinds of monsters and spooky themes. Halloween books are a perfect way to express my creepy…but not too creepy side. When I look at Halloween picture books, I'm immediately focused on the pictures, long before I read the story. What medium did the artist use? How do they depict night scenes? Are they realistic or stylized? How interesting are their characters? Halloween picture books are a perfect way to create moody and somewhat scary scenes that balance the creepy with the not-so-creepy. Kids love to be scared, but we don’t want to give them nightmares! 

Jacqueline's book list on Halloween illustrated

Jacqueline Rogers Why did Jacqueline love this book?

While I am an intermediate student in digital art making, I am a big fan of digital art well done. Cale Atkinson’s fun ghosty picture book, Sir Simon: Super Scarer was a delight to discover!

Atkinson combines stylized skewed perspectives with a wealth of interesting design elements like multiple type styles, picture frame vignettes to divide up a page, hidden ghosts in wallpaper, inventive word balloons, cutaways, and active layouts to move the reader through this fun book.

What I really loved was Atkinson’s use of gravely textures over layers of saturated color favoring turquoise and terra cotta, with a smattering of purples and olives that made me smile. 

Sir Simon goes through a heartwarming change in the story, but I had already fallen in love with his simply designed, emotional charm. 

Hurrah, Cale Atkinson!

By Cale Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sir Simon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A delightful, funny story of friendship, ghost chores, a spooky house and a professional haunter.

Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He's a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And just in time! He was getting tired of haunting bus stops and forests and potatoes. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady -- they're the easiest to haunt!

But things don't go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated. . . until he…


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