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Dor Does Books

Oh, hai! I read books, then I write down what I think of them. 



Spoooooooky - The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black - Susan Hill

I've read - and, I will admit, been slightly underwhelmed by - Susan Hill's other ghost stories, The Small Hand and The Man In The Picture. It's not that there's anything wrong with them, more that there's something right and in achieving that, the stories became slightly too familiar, slightly too much like the traditional ghost story or folk tale for me to enjoy. The Woman In Black is Hill's first and best known attempt at the genre.


It echoes the traditional structure of the English ghost story: at Christmas, by the fire, tales are told. But Arthur Kipps has a tale he will not tell, not to his step-children or his wife; a true one, of something which happened to him years before as a young man, something from which he has never truly recovered. A story of his time at the remote Eel Marsh house, and of the woman in black.


It's a well written story which nicely emulates the style of M R James, creeping rather than shocking, a sense of dread rather than a sense of horror.


However, it's to this book's detriment that I've seen the film adaptation of it. Although they have a number of significant differences from each other, much of the meat is identical. Unusually, the film fleshes out the story. What's here is simple with the neat, fatalistic approach expected from the genre, but I found myself missing the impetus of screen-Kipps. 


If I hadn't seen the film, I may well have enjoyed this more. As it is: 3 stars.