Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Middle-aged London lawyer Arthur Kipps relates the story of his first out-of-office assignment. He takes a train ride out of a city stifled by a yellow fog. He has to go through the papers of deceased client Alice Drablow, a little old lady who lived in an isolated house on the English coast. The house is called Eel Marsh House and is accessed by Nine Lives causeway during low tide. At high tide, visitors are stuck for many hours. Before he gets to the house, Kipps meets a local solicitor and they go to Drablow's funeral. They are the only mourners. At the grave side, Kipps sees a mysterious, emaciated woman clad in black at the far side of the graveyard. He mentions it to the other solicitor who doesn't want to hear anything about it. Nobody in town wants to talk about Mrs. Drablow or Eel House and they discourage Kipps from staying at the house. Of course, he gets caught there during high tide and at night. Many creepy things happen, including more appearances of the woman in black.

The book is a great ghost story. The spooky atmosphere and looming dread are well weaved into the story. The movie version follows the novel quite closely but even having seen the film I still got nice chills from the book. It makes for excellent Halloween reading.

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