Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (October 10, 1983)
Age Group: Adult
Pages (Paperback): 164
Source: Library
ISBN-13: 9780307950215
Genre: Horror/Historical

Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford—a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway—to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow’s house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images—a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed all in black. Psychologically terrifying and deliciously eerie, The Woman in Black is a remarkable thriller of the first rate.


Don't go into this book expecting it to be the movie. Don't go into this book hoping for resolution. This book is extremely dense to read without any real events occurring. This book did not give enough of an experience for the effort that I put into sifting through the thickness of descriptors and historical atmosphere. A quick albeit disappointing selection.


There are times when we cannot remove the expectations that we have of something going into it and this book was an unfortunate victim of that scenario. I watched the movie for this book before even knowing it was a book and I kept the expectations of the relatively entertaining book when I went into this historical book. In a book to movie adaptation, we tend to think that the book is always better. In this instance, the movie should not only be given its own identity but I did find it better than the book.

Perhaps it is against my reading style but this book was written in a historical style that hinted at classic. This was the type of writing that focused on building atmosphere but instead makes the reading dense and heavy. This may or may not have effected the way that I experienced the haunting that this story focuses around.

The pacing that was used to setup the haunting was well done but there was an existing problem with the amount of actual events or action that kept the story propelled. I was also disappointed in the lack of resolution that came with the ending of the story. I wasn't looking for anything heroic or magnificent but the ghost story took some leaps in the end that were just ill placed.

Overall, this story was disappointing and not a fulfilling haunted story. It accomplished a historic and chilling tone but that was all that was successful about this selection.

Rating out of 5:

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