I am delighted to share my review today for the wonderfully atmospheric The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I have had this one on my shelf for a while and it was a brilliant book to read. Ideal for fans of gothic horror and thriller books.
Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again; he also hears the terrifying sounds on the marsh.
Despite Kipps’s experiences he resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil his professional duty. It is this night at Eel Marsh House that contains the greatest horror for Kipps. Kipps later discovers the reasons behind the hauntings at Eel Marsh House. The book ends with the woman in black exacting a final, terrible revenge.
This is a story that is told from the perspective of Arthur Kipps, he recounts his visit to Eel House when he was younger and a junior solicitor. His boss Mr Bentley had asked him to go to sort out the affairs of Mrs Alice Drablow who had died and it was up to the solicitor to put her papers in order.
The story is a fabulous one that has so much atmosphere. The author has injected so much eerie and chilling scenes into this story. A mysterious house that is only accessible at low tide by way of a causeway. The old woman lived alone and had no family. The locals won’t talk about her and don’t visit the house. It is an unmentioned place and one that worries everyone for some reason.
The arrival of Kripps to finalise the affairs does not bring any sense of relief, the locals worry and they are quite right as it turns out. The mystery of the owner is realised when Kripps discovers some letters, but it does not hold all the answers and there are still some things that are left unknown.
Having a ghost story that is not totally finalised leaves the reader with a certain suspense. I did enjoy this book a lot and having such a mysterious presence adds to the suspense. It definitely has that Victorian Gothic horror feel to it and there are events that leave the reader a little unnerved.
I do like the classic style of this story and I am so glad that I finally got around to reading this book. It had been sitting on my kindle shelf for far too long.
If you are a fan of stories that have that classic literature feel and of course ghost stories then this is definitely a book for you. I thought it was brilliant and I would definitely recommend it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1942. Her hometown was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and some short stories especially “Cockles and Mussels”.
She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. Hill states that she attended a girls’ grammar school, Barr’s Hill. Her fellow pupils included Jennifer Page, the first Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome. At Barrs Hill she took A levels in English, French, History and Latin, proceeding to an English degree at King’s College London. By this time she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at university. The novel was criticised by The Daily Mail for its sexual content, with the suggestion that writing in this style was unsuitable for a “schoolgirl”.
Her next novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968. This was followed in quick succession by A Change for the Better, I’m the King of the Castle, The Albatross and other stories, Strange Meeting, The Bird of Night, A Bit of Singing and Dancing and In the Springtime of Year, all written and published between 1968 and 1974.
In 1975 she married Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells and they moved to Stratford upon Avon. Their first daughter, Jessica, was born in 1977 and their second daughter, Clemency, was born in 1985. Hill has recently founded her own publishing company, Long Barn Books, which has published one work of fiction per year.
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