Ghost Story: The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having seen the recent movie version of The Woman in Black, I decided to reread the book and compare the two on certain points. The novel by Susan Hill is a classic English gothic ghost story, and it holds up very well without all the elements, such as the dying children and the menacing villagers, which were added to the screenplay. One of the advantages that the original version possesses is that the narration places the reader inside the mind of Arthur Kipps, the young solicitor who attempts to settle the estate of the recently deceased, reclusive mistress of Eel Marsh House. In the film, viewers are led to wonder what could possibly induce Arthur to return to the house after his first frightening experiences, but the reader can follow the reasoning process that brings him back. The language is appropriately period (very early 20th century British), and Author Hill very skilfully conjured up the perfect setting for her tale, a remote house on an island that is surrounded by the sea for half of each day, accessible only when the tide is at its lowest. In the finest tradition of the genre, the hauntings do not result in anything gruesome or gory, relying instead upon the psychological power of suggestion and small, unexplained perceptions.

I enjoyed the movie with Daniel Radcliff, and was so drawn into the book that I read it all (160 pages) in one sitting. They’re both entertaining and worth experiencing, and not a little creepy.


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