By: Susan Hill
# of pages: 192
Challenge: RIP VI
What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller – one that chills the body with foreboding of dark deeds to come, but warms the soul with perceptions and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story by Jane Austen.
Austen we cannot, alas, give you, but Susan Hill’s remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as the late twentieth century is likely to provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero one Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north to attend the funeral and settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the nursery of the deserted Eel Marsh House, the eerie sound of pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and, most dreadfully, and for Kipps most tragically, the woman in black.
The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler – proof positive that that neglected genre, the ghost story, isn’t dead after all.
My opinion: This is the type of ghost story I enjoy! The Woman in Black is short, but is still a great example of the Gothic genre. The story has the feel of a novel written in the 1800s, so I was surprised that it was written in 1983. I feel like ghost stories nowadays have to be scarier and scarier, just like horror movies. People have become desensitized, which is reflected in literature and film.
Anyway, I was happy with the amount of supernatural suspense. There were times I was tensed up, just waiting…waiting… feeling so incredibly creeped out! But it isn’t overwhelming, just the perfect amount. I highly recommend this well-written ghost story to lovers of Gothic tales, lovers of suspense, and anyone who wants to try reading a story from this genre. It’s a good book to start with because it isn’t going to be too much for someone who is sensitive.
Oh yeah, and can I just say that I liked the ending as weird as that may sound? It was unexpected and definitely rounded out the novel.
Look for the movie coming out in February 2012! Looks SO creepy, it gives me goosebumps to watch the trailer.
Why I gave this book 4/5 stars: It was very well-written and a great story. In order for me to give it 5 stars, however, I would want it to absorb me so much that I can’t stop thinking about it and imagine myself in the novel alongside the main character. This didn’t do that for me, so that’s why I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5.
Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I’d be happy to post yours as well.