The Woman in Black
Tuesday, September 13, 2011Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill
Now this is my kind of ghost story. In the past I've enjoyed books like The Turning of the Screw and The Haunting of Hill House, but have always been left feeling just a little bit frustrated. You aren't quite sure if they are ghosts stories or tales of madness. You can't trust the narrator, which makes them both wonderful and infuriating.
The Woman is Black doesn't take that approach. It is absolutely a ghost story and it scared me more than I'd like to admit (but in a good way!)
A young solicitor, Arthur Kipps, is dispatched to a remote corner of England to resolve the affairs of a recently deceased client, Mrs. Drablow. She had lived alone in a huge, old mansion, Eel Marsh House, on the outskirts of town. Kipps quickly realizes that things won't be as simple as he'd hoped, but every attempt he makes to get more information is thwarted. The townspeople's furtive glances and refusal to talk about Eel Marsh House heighten his suspicions that there's something very wrong with the house.
I think if I could sum up the book in one word it would be: satisfying. It perfectly fulfilled my own personal taste for a ghost story. I don't like graphic scenes of horror, but I love a good scare. I also want good characters and a believable plot. This one had the perfect balance of all of those factors and on top of that, the writing was excellent.
It has the best and most disturbing description of fog that I've ever read...
"It was a mist like a damp, clinging cobwebby thing, fine and yet impenetrable. It smelled and taste quite different from the yellow filthy fog of London; that was choking and thick and still, this was salty, light and pale and moving in front of my eyes all the time. I felt confused, teased by it, as though it were made up of millions of live fingers that crept over me, hung on to me and then shifted away again."
Another reason I loved this story is Kipps himself. So often ghost stories seem to contain weak lead characters that are easily frightened. I think I trusted Kipps' description of the events more because he was determined not to be easily scared off by rumors. The story scares with both the tangible and intangible, both scary in their own way. For example...
"At that moment I began to doubt my own reality."
Is anything more terrifying than that?
I absolutely recommend this one for anyone and everyone who likes a good scare.
I had the opportunity to see The Woman in Black on stage in London and it was terrifying as a play as well. It's pretty impressive when a ghost story is so good that it can scare you in multiple formats.
Bonus: This book was made into a movie starring none other than Harry Potter himself. It's release date is February 3, 2012 and I will be first in line to see it. Check out the trailer here (seriously, chills).
I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings here.
For more R.I.P reviews visit here.