I'll be including a summary and review in my quarterly "What We're Reading" column for NoveList (a public library database), which will be published in August. Because my editor's going on vacation, I had to list my 5 picks for the column ahead of time, and because I told her Thirteenth Tale was going to be one of the books I covered, it locked me into reading it sooner rather than later. I'm glad I did.
The book's website gives a better plot description than you'll find on the back of the ARC, and because I'll be talking about it in detail elsewhere, I'll say no more, other than that for me, the hype was warranted. On that £800,000 deal, though - I've read other great novels that weren't valued nearly so highly by publishers, but I do hope The Thirteenth Tale does well. It's a wonderful story. As for whether it's historical or not, my original question: no, not really. A fair amount of the plot takes place 60 years in the past, but you won't find any real historical detail in those scenes, just a gothic strangeness that suits the novel perfectly. In short, it works.