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Ï Read ¾ The Woman in Black by Susan Hill î A disappointment I kept hearing about how this was a real honest to god, old fashioned ghost story steeped in the tradition of James and James Henry and Montague Rhodes that delivered a frisson of genuine terror and some very fine writing as well Alas I didn t find any of this to be true.
For starters, I didn t believe the narrator He is a man in his forties self described as unimaginative who years before suffered a scarring supernatural experience, yet he sounds for all the world like a timid watered down version of a young Bronte heroine or should I just say du Maurier heroine , sensitive to nature and hell bent on describing everything that comes along way, relevant or not The book is a pastiche of 19th century stylistic cliches, starting with a half hearted Pickwickian Christmas, moving quickly to a Bleak House inspired description of fog, and soon settling into page upon page of le Rating Clarification 2.
Disappointing and predictable, this Gothic ghost story isn t a patch on the classics of the genre such as Henry James The Turn of the Screw The writing is uneven and the author fails to keep the suspense building often interspersing awkward boring moments between the tense scenes, which unfortunately were all too few Part of the problem with the tension was that it was all so predictable I didn t even feel the need to check the ending like I usually do In other words the suspense wasn t killing me Not that the actual story was at fault as such, it wasthat the author seemed to give away too much too soon and didn t manage to drip feed bits of the story to the reader in such a way to make it a compelling page turner I was also left with various questions at the end, some silly some not For instance, w I said in another review that I m near impossible to scare because my parents were relaxed with horror movie censorship when I was a young kid I was oversaturated with horror from a young age and tend to find itlaughable than spine tingling.
However, this book may be the only exception I have found so far In recent years I have flat out avoided horror stories because they do nothing for me I can stomach Stephen King but only because his books tend to be aboutthan the basic horror element For me to find this book, a book that is entirely a horror story, to be so enjoyable and so frightening is quite incredible.
I don t need to tell you what it s about, you can read that in countless descriptions, but I do need to say just how much this scared me and
A chilling, traditional ghost story, with a strong Victorian feel a lone lawyer goes to a spooky house on the marshes, plagued by stories of madness and death No great surprises, but shocking none the less It is skilfully written, so that most of the scary stuff happens in your head, rather than being explicit on the page NARRATOR Arthur Kipps, the main character and the narrator is very pragmatic and always tries to dismiss his fears and find a rational explanation, which serves to make his storybelievable and thusalarming All the way through, his greatest need is to uncover the truth, however unpalatable it may be However, it s not what he sees or hears that really scares him, but what he FEELS, and the power of The Woman in Black s emotion His feelings towards her change from con You know, what I love about British ghost stories are that they are so understated, like everything else in the country They don t come bellowing and and dripping gory entrails they creep upon you, and whisper boo almost apologetically in your ear I think M R James started this trend, and all others seem to be following it.
Susan Hill starts her novel, The Woman in Black , showing Arthur Kipps, an elderly lawyer and the first person narrator, having a quiet Christmas Eve with his family However, we are given a hint of the tragedy in Kipps life, when he casually mentions his status as a widower in his early twenties When his stepchildren ask him to narrate a ghost story, the normally sedate lawyer becomes extremely agitated and walks out because the children have touched a raw nerve For there is a very real ghost in Arthur Kipps past.
As a young man, Arthur is sent to
The noise of the pony trap grew fainter and then stopped abruptly and away on the marsh was a curious draining, sucking, churning sound, which went on, together with the shrill neighing and whinnying of a horse in panic and then I heard another cry, a shout a terrified sobbingA short novel that really should have but didn t pack a punch, it had Most of the elements for the type of ghost story I normally am drawn t 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, But Warms The Soul With Plot, Perception, And Language At Once Astute And Vivid In Other Words, A Ghost Story Written By Jane Austen Alas, We Cannot Give You Austen, But Susan Hill S Remarkable Woman In Black Comes As Close As Our Era Can Provide Set On The Obligatory English Moor, On An Isolated Causeway, The Story Has As Its Hero Arthur Kipps, An Up And Coming Young Solicitor Who Has Come North From London To Attend The Funeral And Settle The Affairs Of Mrs Alice Drablow Of Eel Marsh House The Routine Formalities He Anticipates Give Way To A Tumble Of Events And Secrets Sinister And Terrifying Than Any Nightmare The Rocking Chair In The Deserted Nursery, The Eerie Sound Of A 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 This Neglected Genre, The Ghost Story, Isn T Dead After All 2.
5 starsThe story starts with our main protagonist Arthur Kipps narrating his paranormal experience to his close family and friends The start of the book reminded me of The Turn of the Screw as this also starts with a similar narration pattern and both these stories revolve around an isolated house.
But that is where the similarity ends.
The setting ofEel Marsh Houseis spooky, it is foggy surrounded by marshes and the accessibility to the house is blocked during high tide.
Arthur see s The Woman in Black and then start s experiencing unusual things The paranormal angle of this is interesting but not as creepy even though it involves The Woman in BlackThis was a quick read and the ending took me by surprise view spoiler When Arthur got away from Eel Marsh and Crythin Gifford, Wonderfully, spooky, tragic story The narrator does a frighteningly good job of conveying the absolute horror that young Arthur Kipp experiences when he travels on behalf of his legal firm to tie up the loose ends of a client who has died Eel House stands deserted and only accessible twice a day with the low tide He has no idea what he is going to find when he plans on staying at the malevolent house under the hateful, evil watch of the deadly woman in black Arthur has no idea that seeing her will haunt him for the rest of his life I loved listening to this probablythan I would have liked reading it A chilling ghost story to get into the Halloween spirit.