The Woman In Black by Susan Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love this story: I have seen it adapted for TV and for stage and finally decided to read it.
It reads like a classic Victorian ghost story, full of description and reserved emotion, which give an eerie charm that I find some modern horror novels lack. I am truly a fan of the spooky side of horror, things that make my spine tingle, not that make me feel sick, and this book is a perfect fit for spook lovers.
Having said that, the beginning is a little long-winded as we are introduced to Arthur Kipps as an older man, looking back on his youth. I did find my eyes skipping large sections of description at this point, since it did not seem relevant to the plot at all, long descriptions of his current house, how he got his current house, all could have been done in a few lines - at times I am in favour of tell, don't show when the show would not be relevant to the plot.
However, after the slow start, Crythin Gifford looms into sight and the plot is afoot. Anyone who has read my reviews before knows that quite a few are me reading a book after having seen it on TV and I do like the contrast between media. The book has a slower pace to either of the other media I have experienced, an indulgence allowed because the book is first person POV and we are given a view on Arthur's thoughts and feelings. It is a little ponderous in places due to this, but the atmosphere that Susan Hill conjures makes up for this slow down. The drama from the book is very much in Arthur's head and his wavering emotions and determination are beautifully believable.
Every encounter with the woman in black made me nervous and I got a real sense of Arthur's isolation at these times. The only part that was truly shocking to me was the end, which is different in all three media, and, in the book, left me reeling. I won't say what happens, but it is shocking and abrupt.
Anyway, brilliant book.
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