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The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black (original 1983; edition 1997)

by Susan Hill

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9121433,597 (3.78)420
Title:The Woman in Black
Authors:Susan Hill
Collections:Read in 2009, Read but unowned
Tags:Fiction. English.

Work details

The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill (1983)

  1. 50
    The Turn of the Screw, and In the Cage by Henry James (bookworm12)
  2. 51
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (kraaivrouw, Jannes)
    Jannes: No sure if it is a coincidence, but the two perhaps best ghost stories ever written are both by women, in a genre otherwise mostly dominated by men. Both are superb explorations of death, loss, fear, and all those other elementsthat make up the good supernatural tales.… (more)
  3. 10
    The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill (jm501)
  4. 00
    The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons (sturlington)
  5. 00
    Waltz into Darkness (Crime, Penguin) by Cornell Woolrich (cometahalley)
  6. 00
    The Small Hand by Susan Hill (jm501)
  7. 00
    The Ghost Writer by John Harwood (madamlibbytellsall)
  8. 01
    The Memory Game by Nicci French (cometahalley)

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» See also 420 mentions

English (140)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (143)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
I didn't really care for this ghost story. I kept hearing about it and hearing about it so i thought I'd read it in honor of Halloween but eh, I was not impressed. I wanted to quit but read on because it was a short book, had it been any longer, I would not have finished it. ( )
  Sharn | Nov 12, 2015 |
Deliciously spooky ghost story, written, constructed and paced to absolute perfection. The debt to MR James is graciously acknowledged, and it saves its greatest shock for the final page, leaving the reader gasping with horror.

Arthur Kipps, junior solicitor is despatched to a remote, windswept, fog-bound corner of Britain, where Eel Marsh House rests far out on a lonely causeway, cut off for hours at a time by the tide. There he is to put the affairs of the deceased client in order. The locals are nervous, however, and at the funeral he sees a woman dressed all in black who is invisible to his companion. Strange sounds, odd occurrences, terrifying encounters on a fog-bound road: this could so easily have slipped into pastiche, but Susan Hill carries it off with aplomb. Spot-on reading for this time of the year. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I read a large portion of this novel over a pint in a homely pub - one of the least frightening places in the world - and again and again waves of chills were flowing down my back. A perfect ghost story. ( )
  Lukerik | Oct 20, 2015 |
"A family gathers around a Christmas fire to share ghost stories in the British tradition, only to drive their eldest, Arthur Kipps, staggering out into the winter snow in a paroxysm of remembered terror. Hours later he returns to the house determined to finally exorcise, by writing out his tale, the thing that's haunted him all these years - the memory of the Woman in Black. So begins the tale of a young solicitor sent to sort out the papers of the deceased Alice Drablow and the mystery of Eel Marsh House.

My family has always been relaxed about me watching horror movies since a very young age, so I am one of those people that don't get scared easily. However, the experience of reading this book was so captivating, creepy and downright gripping, that the book got me more scared than the movie (maybe a contributing factor on this is that I also read it alone, during the night). Hill manages to evoke a legend within the character that is The Woman in Black, while at the same time describing two main themes.

First of all, the author exploits the landscapes and scenarios to build atmospheres of terror. She uses the landscape and scenarios as an independent character itself, so they become part of the narration: ""-Behind me, out on the marshes, all was still and silent; save for that movement of the water, the pony and trap might never have existed."" You will easily notice that the sky gets darker, the rooms get colder, the fog sets in whenever something creepy is about to happen. Such practice sets your brain to automatically expect the worst to come at the merest mention of a change in the weather. As a result, I would find myself constantly tense way before anything would actually happen, what, in my opinion, was a lot more interesting than more sparse depictions of horror.

Secondly, there are detailed descriptions of almost everything about the main character. In both cases, Hill uses their positive features to provide a foil for those times when the situation would get out of control or really dark, which provided some balance to the story. However, I do have to admit that despite the quality of Hill’s prose, I wasn't completely satisfied with the way the story unfolded itself on the end of the book. I enjoyed the way that the final twist hung on until the last page of the book, but, in my opinion, a little bit more could have been developed; there was unfinished business in Eel Marsh House.

Overall, this edition of the book is lovely. It was a very atmospheric, and fun read. I enjoyed the combination of the frightening mansion with the inaccessibility of the road at high tide; it reminded me a bit of the idea behind [b:The Hound of the Baskervilles|8921|The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5)|Arthur Conan Doyle|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1355929358s/8921.jpg|3311984]. It is a traditional British ghost story, in the best sense. The book is considerably shorter than I was expecting, although it might be just a feeling, since I had been reading a bunch of drawn out and over sized books at the time I read this one. I guess this book proves that a good story can be delivered in fewer pages than you think (or publishers want). I'm not giving this book five stars because, even though I've read very few horror books, I figure it isn't very original in its plot points and execution. I did, however, very much enjoy that it's a short book that tosses away everything that is not strictly relevant. I'm automatically inclined to like any author who knows how to do that.

Interesting quotes that I didn't include in the review:
For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever.

The Last Passage
There was a terrible crash. Then silence. The woman in black had gone. But my darling Stella and my dear son lay on the grass. They did not move.
Our baby son was dead. Stella’s body was broken. But she did not die. Not then. For ten long months, I sat by her bed. Then Stella died at last from her terrible injuries.
They asked me for my story. I have told it. There is nothing more to write.
" ( )
  AdemilsonM | Sep 2, 2015 |
**Originally posted on www.bunnycates.com **

When I first started in on this book, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I mean 40 some odd pages in and still NOTHING had “happened”. I’m glad I stuck with it, though. I enjoyed the characters, Arthur, especially. I just kept waiting for something scary to happen, and it never did. Nothing made me pull my covers up over my face or get up and turn some more lights on.

I told my friend that it was not a scary book, per say; but more an old time ghost story told by kids at summer camp about a scary house up the road from camp. The “scary” was more that you were on pins and needles WAITING for something scary. LOL

At first I was really surprised that the powers that be in Hollywood adapted this book to film. It’s a ghost story but with no big “BOO!” moments. But the more I think about it, this may be the one instance where the movie is better than the book. I can totally see where having some “visuals” would help intensify the story.

Good story, but not “horror”. I would classify this book as more “Paranormal” “Suspense”.

In Conclusion:
I liked this book well enough. It was just really slow getting going. I would recommend it to people who like “ghost stories”. I also have full intensions of watching the movie!

Mom Notes:
Not scary, just suspenseful. Deals with sadness and death. Would say ages “advanced” 10
  BunnyCates | Jul 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (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
Susan Hillprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klingberg, OlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Pat and Charles Gardner
First words
It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve.
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307745317, Paperback)

A classic ghost story: the chilling tale of a menacing specter haunting a small English town. Arthur Kipps is 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 mystery, 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 all in black.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:59 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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 of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shutttered windows.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 15 descriptions

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