Review written 18th October 2015
Title: The Woman in Black
Author: Susan Hill
Series status: The 1st book in a duo/ has a prequel
Publisher: Longman Imprint Books
Number of Pages: 122
(Found on Goodreads)
Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House.
The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and most dreadfully–and for Kipps most tragically–The Woman In Black.
The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler–proof positive that this neglected genre, the ghost story, isn’t dead after all.
This is a very rare case where I have watched the film before reading the book. I was expecting the book to be a lot longer than it was, so with only 122 pages, I finished it really quickly.
The story was very descriptive, with there often being huge paragraphs explaining the scene and atmosphere surrounding it. A few photographs were dotted around in the edition I have, which helped set the eeriness to a typical ghost story standard. There were definitely scenes that caused me to be quite chilled by the events, especially when settled down and reading in near silence.
I was a lot more interested in the actual ghost story than I was the characters involved, and found myself impatient to get to the next creepy part. I’d have enjoyed the book a lot more if it was longer, so that more could happen in the story. I was definitely influenced by the movie with this, as there were certain events I was waiting for, only to find they never actually happened in the book. Shortly before reading this I heard a fair few people claiming it to be “terrifying” and “the scariest book they’ve read”, which added to the hype and actually caused a tiny bit of disappointment, since I didn’t find it all that scary. A bit creepy and eerie, yes. Scary? No.
I would’ve preferred it to be slightly longer with more spooky events happening, however for a book as short as it was, I think it was an enjoyable and reasonable Halloween read.
Rated 3//5 stars!