Sunday, 2 October 2016

Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Title: The Woman in Black
Author: Susan Hill
Publisher:  Vintage Classics
Pages: 208
Genres: Horror
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a pale young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose.
I had been hearing great things about Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and although I had watched the film ages ago I honestly could not remember that much about it. The book is under two hundred pages so that's a plus but honestly, I felt a little underwhelmed.

Most of the book is just intense build-up and descriptions of foreboding weather and despite the title, the woman in black has maybe three appearances total. I didn't feel scared at all until the last five pages where the ending was so profound that it instantly gave me goosebumps. I resent the fact that only five pages out of the entire book actually creeped me out. The main character of Arthur was scared out of his wits and Susan Hill did a brilliant job of describing his emotional state, it's just a shame that I as the reader didn't feel scared alongside him. Instead I felt bored most of the time. Which is not what I wanted from a ghost story.

I found it intriguing that Susan Hill's Victorian-esque writing style in this book felt like it could have been written in the late nineteenth century and so has a classic and timeless feel to it. I adored it and I think it was really well done.

Overall, I found The Woman in Black to be slow moving and quite dull until the last five pages which were fantastic. I can't say I would recommend this to readers looking for a good scare, the film is better.

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