Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


No title (2010)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3583530,413 (3.44)65

Work details

The Small Hand by Susan Hill (2010)

2010s (3)
Ghosts (64)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 65 mentions

English (33)  Dutch (2)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Adam Snow specializes in acquiring rare, expensive books for wealthy clients. This takes him to a remote French monastery to obtain a Shakespeare First Folio.

However, all is not well with Snow - he stumbled upon an old, derelict house and garden and felt the pressure of a small hand in his, and has ever-after been haunted by this hand-holding spectre, which sometimes tries to push him into bodies of water.

The Small Hand is rather beautifully written, with some inspired bits of description. The English countryside, Oxford, and the remote French monastery were fascinating settings. I actually found Snow’s job fascinating, yet I was annoyed when it got in the way of the supernatural story elements because this is a ghost story, isn’t it? I’m here for the ghosts.

And that’s the problem. As a ghost story, I have to say, this didn’t work for me. I found the supernatural elements incredibly boring. The ghost holds his hand . . . . so?

Snow doesn’t even try very hard to unravel the mystery of this thing that’s tormenting him, he’s rather uninvested in it, except for when he’s repeatedly insisting to you, the reader, that it was real which got to the point where I was rolling my eyes and the whole thing started to feel a whole lot less real.

Also, is Adam Snow duller than dirt, or what? How could it take him so long to deduce who the old woman at the house was, or who the third boy in the photograph was? I mean, really, Adam - you’re first, immediate, gut reaction wasn’t that they were the ghosts?! That didn’t even cross your mind?! Despite you being haunted this whole time and coming to this place to investigate it? What? What is wrong with you?

This book is simply not scary or even creepy. The characters were so barely drawn that it’s hard to feel anything about any of them, so I didn’t really care at all when the mystery resolved itself in the obvious way that it was going to. Actually, the only time when I felt any suspense was when I thought the ghost might do something to damage the Shakespeare First Folio (not that it did.) ( )
  catfantastic | Jul 16, 2015 |
I really enjoy Susan Hill's ghost stories. The magical thing about her work is that it is not new. She is able to work within the prescribed limits of the "ghost story" and still -- though you KNOW what will eventually happen--make you shiver. ( )
  Kelley.Logan | Jan 16, 2015 |
I enjoyed the build up to the story, but was disappointed with the ending, which seemed a bit of a cop out to me. But a fairly satisfying read nevertheless - the writing is enjoyable. ( )
  Storm_Constantine | Nov 11, 2014 |
Read this in a couple of hours, it's quite short. Much better than the Woman in Black, much creepier and better plotting. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Feb 22, 2014 |
The small hand is a beautiful, spooky story that, unlike much of Susan Hill's writing in the past two decades reaches the high levels of mystery and suspense in her earlier novel The woman in black. Unlike The woman in black, which strongly evoked the atmosphere of Dickens, The small hand is firmly set in the present, but no less dreamy and haunted.

The small hand should particularly appeal to book lovers, as the main character is an antiquarian book dealer who buys and sells old and rare books. The framework of the story is his hunt for a first edition Shakespeare folio, which takes him to a monastery hidden away in the French Alps. The short novel has beautiful descriptions of English county houses, landscapes and the visit of the monastery.

Throughout the novel, the main character is drawn to a derelict garden, a once famous garden now not only forgotten by most people, but also buried deep in the main characters memories. As memories and visions blur and get mixed, doom is near at hand.

The small hand is a gorgeous story for readers who love subtle suspense. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Dec 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Veteran author Susan Hill established herself as a mistress of the ghost story with The Woman In Black, although this - like the more recent The Man In The Picture - is shorter, a novella really, one-dimensional and shorn of any sub-plot. It proves intriguing rather than chilling, although some may find the end guessable well before they get there.

Nevertheless, it’s hugely enjoyable and a perfect read for a couple of hours by the ­fireside on a dark winter’s evening, and would make an ideal Christmas stocking filler.
added by Nickelini | editDaily Mail, John Harding (Oct 7, 2010)
Ultimately, this is a wonderful piece of storytelling that does what a good story ought to do: it keeps you guessing, pulls you in. And when the climax comes, the explanation and the source of the haunting are not what you think at all. You really don't see it coming.
added by Nickelini | editthe Guardian, Jeremy Dyson (Sep 25, 2010)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Robert, cher ami pour beacoup d’années,
for so many things
Et aussi pour sa Claudine
First words
It was a little before nine o'clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud, and I had lost my way.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

A chilling ghost story about a man who experiences a small hand creeping into his own as if a child has taken hold of it. He soon finds himself plagued by nightmares, panic attacks and more visits from the increasingly sinister small hand.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
5 avail.
5 wanted
1 pay1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.44)
0.5 1
1 3
2 10
2.5 8
3 43
3.5 24
4 48
4.5 8
5 9


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 99,708,375 books! | Top bar: Always visible