“The Woman in Black” by Susan Hill

It is only appropriate that I should look at a ghost story on this stormy Halloween evening. I understand that both a West End play and a film with Daniel Radcliffe (also known as Harry Potter) have been made, based on this book. I have seen neither of them though I can imagine how the book may lend itself to adaptation for stage or, even more so, for a cinematographic recreation. Especially if special effects come into play.

The story is about a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps, travelling to a remote, derelict house on the outskirts of a God-forsaken little town surrounded by marshes, in order to sort out the affairs of his firm’s deceased client, Mrs Drablow. Something sinister hangs in the air even before he sees the apparition of a black-clad woman. The locals are afraid to talk about her. There is a conspiracy of silence. And fear. When Arthur gets cut off the rest of the world whilst working alone in Mrs Drablow’s house, the haunting intensifies. A chair rocks relentlessly in one of the rooms. The woman crosses his path at a cemetary. Then, in the thickest of the night, he hears the distressed sound of a drowning pony and screams of a child.

Susan Hill builds up the atmosphere with skill. She has a gothic touch. She knows the tools of horror writing: the air of secrecy, the hapless locals, an empty old house and some great tragedy lingering in the background. What I would like to see more of is the characters of the people inovlved in the ghostly affair to be more indepth, more developed. I want to know them better. I want to know them, not just the man who, randomly and irrelevantly, happens to be in the house and happens to be haunted. On the other hand, perhaps the mystery of those characters is what a good ghost story is all about?

Finally, to the ending. I won’t reveal it in case there are still people out there who have not read or seen “The Woman in Black”, but I will say that the ending, for me, was the weakest point. There was no vindication. No reason for what happened in the end. Again, it was random and unjustified and so, I felt no compassion for those affected by the original tragedy.

Overall, a decent 3 stars out of 5. A book you could read under the covers in just one single night, especially when it is raining and the tide is high.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thelifestories2
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 15:14:54

    Great review! I will definitely be reading this book. Horror is one of my favourite genre. So thanks for posting this review 😀
    Also, thanks so much for following. I appreciate it loads 🙂

    Reply

  2. Tim
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 20:41:36

    Hi Anna, I’ve crossed over to the other side! I’ve read the book which I enjoyed but have not seen the Daniel Radcliffe version but believe me the television version from 1989 was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen on the box!
    xx

    Reply

    • abevanswylie
      Nov 05, 2012 @ 20:59:34

      You’re such a skillful crosser! For a non-believer to be terrified of ghosts, well… well… Richard Dork-in must be turning in his grave, he he he 🙂

      I must get the 1989 version – eighties is my era; everything from the eighties goes down a treat with me.

      Reply

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