Book Review: The Woman In Black

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The blurb: First published in 1983, The Woman in Black is Susan Hill’s best-loved novel, and the basis for the UK’s second longest ever running stage play, and a major film starring Daniel Radcliffe. Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, travels to a remote village to put the affairs of a recently deceased client, Alice Drablow in order. As he works alone in her isolated house, Kipps begins to uncover disturbing secrets – and his unease grows when he glimpses a mysterious woman dressed in black. The locals are strangely unwilling to talk about the unsettling occurrence, and Kipps is forced to uncover the true identity of the Woman in Black on his own, leading to a desperate race against time when he discovers her true intent…

My review: I picked this up for two reason, one the cover is beautiful, the small format hardback is completely gorgeous and sits nicely next to my copy of The Small Hand. Two, I wanted to make sure I’d read it before seeing the film in the daft hope that knowing the ending would lessen the scare factor. Hmm.

However since chatting to someone who’s seen the film and hearing it’s completely different from the book I think I’m going to give it a miss. There’s no way it can live up to the book.

Creepy. Creepy. Creepy.

Susan Hill has completely captured the essence of the Edwardian ghost story, the sense of impending doom, the subtle terror, the squeaking chair and the very long sentences! There’s no room for escape when a sentence is the entire paragraph long. It builds your sense of unease. And whilst fantastical there’s something very real and truly sad about this book, you can’t help but feel the woman in black is justified in her sadness.

This is a brilliant book, atmospheric and chilling, your mind fills in the elegantly structured gaps which makes the whole thing even more terrifying. If I’m on lonely stretches of road, or on the Isle of Wight where it’s a little bit too quiet, I’m reminded of Eel Marsh House. Petrifying!

8 out of 10 stars! ********

One thought on “Book Review: The Woman In Black

  1. Hi Molly,
    You are right this is a completely creepy book and very unsettling. Real shocker at the end. Your friend is right that the book doesn’t live up to the film, but it is an equally pleasing experience. I compared the two on my blog the other week. The film made me scream and jump, whereas the book left me feeling uneasy. Susan Hill has an amazing talent to be able to do all of that in so few words.

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