Friday, December 3, 2010

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

On a foggy London evening Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor, is commissioned by his boss to attend the funeral of and then settle the papers of a client called Mrs. Drablow. He travels to her small town on the moors and meets with strange looks and fearful stares when he reveals to the townspeople why he is there. At the funeral he notices a skeletal, wasted woman dressed all in black at the back of the church and he also later sees her in the cemetery of Eel Marsh House, Mrs. Drablow's isolated marshland home. Strange sights, sounds and events soon conspire to propel Arthur from the home and he determines he'll never return. Who is the woman in black and what did Arthur actually experience at Eel Marsh House?
This ghost story set in the early part of the 20th century, is told in first-person from Arthur's viewpoint as he relates this life changing experience to be read after his death.The writing is fabulously descriptive and Hill is an expert at creating a menacing, threatening atmosphere throughout the novella. I don't scare easily, but there were a few scenes that raised goose bumps. The characters are sympathetic and believable and their trepidation is palpable. This supernatural tale is a model of its kind and is the perfect book if you prefer atmosphere over gore.

Also reviewed today at:
Park Benches & Bookends


  1. I will have to find a copy of this somewhere. I LOVE ghost stories. I was reading somewhere that Susan Hill was similar to Edith Wharton in her ghost stories and that Edith Wharton follows the tradition of M.R. James, my all-time favorite writer of ghost stories. So, circuitously, I am sure I would really like this novella!

  2. It's really worth it - a fantastic ghost story. I read recently that Daniel Radcliffe is going to star in a movie based on it soon.

  3. I ve not read this but loved her non fiction howards end on the landing ,where she rereads and reads books she has for a year full of little stories about people she met ,all the best stu

  4. Hi Stu, I liked The Woman in Black so much that I tracked down Howard's End is on the Landing. I'm loving it so far!

  5. Susan Hill also writes really good murder mysteries, if you guys like that kind of thing -- she's one of my favorites. Love your blog, anbolyn! Nice to have all of you cousins reading together!
    -- Carol