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The Woman in Black (1983)

by Susan Hill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,8682023,333 (3.7)537
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose.… (more)
Recently added bydolly22, Arina40, Count_Zero, private library, imlee, libraryofthedead, leezeebee
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» See also 537 mentions

English (198)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
I read this novel in one setting during a bout of insomnia, which was not one of my better ideas. The story is not original but the tension increases rapidly and the atmosphere which the writer creates is quite chilling and leads to a frightening climax. This novel may be quite small but it definitely leaves an impact. Next time I find it hard to sleep, I'll just take the night calming remedies instead. ( )
  dolly22 | Jul 9, 2020 |
Boo!

Did that scare you? If it did then you probably shouldn't read The Woman in Black. Also, you should probably seek help, like psychiatric help. Okay? If it didn't scare you then you'll probably be alright with this book.

Written in the 1980s, the book reads like a gothic horror novel written a century earlier. It's the tale of a young legal clerk travelling to a town on the East coast of England that's surrounded by flat countryside and marshland, and populated by rustic yokels speaking a barely comprehensible dialect. He's there to clear up the affairs of an old lady who lived by herself in a creaky old manor out on the marsh that can only be reached at low tide.

Like all good horror stories the book builds the tension. In fact it builds it, and builds it, and builds it, and then ends. I spent the first third nervously waiting for something terrifying to happen, the middle third curiously wondering when something terrifying was going to happen, and the final third desperately hoping that something terrifying would happen. The book is written well enough, but this is a horror story so I'm jolly well going to rate it on how much it scared me. Sure there's a ghost, but it's about as scary as opening a book review and reading the work "Boo". ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
Boo!

Did that scare you? If it did then you probably shouldn't read The Woman in Black. Also, you should probably seek help, like psychiatric help. Okay? If it didn't scare you then you'll probably be alright with this book.

Written in the 1980s, the book reads like a gothic horror novel written a century earlier. It's the tale of a young legal clerk travelling to a town on the East coast of England that's surrounded by flat countryside and marshland, and populated by rustic yokels speaking a barely comprehensible dialect. He's there to clear up the affairs of an old lady who lived by herself in a creaky old manor out on the marsh that can only be reached at low tide.

Like all good horror stories the book builds the tension. In fact it builds it, and builds it, and builds it, and then ends. I spent the first third nervously waiting for something terrifying to happen, the middle third curiously wondering when something terrifying was going to happen, and the final third desperately hoping that something terrifying would happen. The book is written well enough, but this is a horror story so I'm jolly well going to rate it on how much it scared me. Sure there's a ghost, but it's about as scary as opening a book review and reading the work "Boo". ( )
1 vote leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
I gave this story 4.5 stars. However I had to round it up on Goodreads to 5 stars.

So I don't know if I am rating this favorable because the last two books I finished made me want to scream and kick something or not. For the most part I loved the story until we got to the subpar ending which didn't do much for me. And when we do get to the ending of the tale, the story just comes to a flat stop which made me think I was missing some pages from the book.

Told in the first person, readers "meet" Arthur Kipps. We find that Arthur is an older man and is enjoying having his stepchildren home for Christmas. For some reason though Arthur feels unsettled. Eventually returning to his family there is a call for ghost stories which infuriates Arthur and he takes himself outside. He decides to write down a "real" ghost story for his wife in order to finally unburden himself. We then flash back to when Arthur was a young solicitor working in London when he was dispatched to deal with Mrs. Alice Drablow's estate. Attending the funeral, Arthur notices a woman in black. And unfortunately for Arthur, she notices him too.

I thought that Arthur was a good protagonist for this story. I felt myself sympathetic and also afraid for him throughout the story. What gets you is that though Arthur sees the things that he does and feels them too, he still wants to figure out a way to logically explain it and/or end it.

There are several other people in this story and Hill doesn't focus too much on them besides how Arthur perceives them until we get almost to the end and we have Arthur making a life long friend with one of the town inhabitants, Samuel Daily.

I thought the writing was tone perfect. Hill manages to describe things to such a great extent that you feel like you are right there. The first chapter in the book I really enjoyed because it really did make me think I was somewhere in a large country house in England smelling the winter air and looking at the moon and stars. When Arthur travels to Crythin Gifford it feels ominous and threatening based on what Arthur tells us people's reactions are to him. What is sad is how pulled to Alice Drablow's home (Eel Marsh House) he felt and how initially he was charmed by the house and thought how wonderful it would be to live there. What is funny is that as a reader, based on the description I would have gotten the heck out of there. Pronto.



The flow of the story really does work up until almost the end. Then the story comes apart a bit and the flow never really improves after that. I think that we just had a ridiculous missing time segment that didn't make a whole lot of sense and all of a sudden Arthur changes from wanting to figure out the woman in black, to deciding the heck with it.

I loved the settings of Crythin Gifford and Eel Marsh House. Eel Marsh House especially had me shuddering slightly based on how Hill describes it and how foolish we know that Arthur is for staying on though anyone with any sense would have high tailed it out of there.



The ending though like I said earlier was a disappointment. There didn't seem to be enough evil there for the woman in black. I liked everything up until the final reveal and I said to myself really? It just was missing that last little bit of oomph. I don't need every book to read like a Stephen King novel. But I was a disappointed with who was the woman in black and what led her to her current state. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
What a place to haunt
quicksand, sudden spooky mists
even some ruins! ( )
1 vote Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
I love this style of writing... very detailed and descriptive. Although some of our students have said that they had a hard time getting through the first few chapters, I was immediately captivated.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hill, Susanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klingberg, OlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

Blackbirds (2001.1)
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For Pat and Charles Gardner
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It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve.
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But gradually I discovered for myself the truth of the axiom that a man cannot remain indefinitely in a state of active terror. Either the emotion will increase until, at the prompting of more and more dreadful events and apprehensions, he is so overcome by it that he runs away or goes mad; or he will become by slow degrees less agitated and more in possession of himself.
A man may be accused of cowardice for fleeing away from all manner of physical dangers but when things supernatural, insubstantial and inexplicable threaten not only his safety and well-being but his sanity, his innermost soul, then retreat is not a sign of weakness but the most prudent course.
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Book description
Arthur Kipps in an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford-a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway-to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client. Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow's house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystyery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images-a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed in black. (96780307950215)
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