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The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
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The Woman in Black (1983)

by Susan Hill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,5001893,556 (3.73)503
Recently added byrena75, private library, dianne47, cvobrien, ferskner, jillm, KentonSem, clq
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» See also 503 mentions

English (185)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  All languages (189)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
I found The Woman in Black to be disappointing. It's really a shame, as it was a personal recommendation, but for me it didn't work on any level.
When starting the book, I was surprised at how short it appeared to be. I'd heard that this book was "really scary" and figured it had to be pretty amazing to deliver such a punch in so few pages. It never delivered.
I should disclaim, I have yet to find myself properly spooked by the supernatural, be it by books, films, or tv. However, I can appreciate the emotions of characters, and usually find myself empathising with them to the point where I am on the edge of my seat with my heart beating quickly along with theirs. The Woman in Black didn't come close to making me feel anything at all.
The entire story seems to rely heavily on an atmosphere of suspense, horror, and mystery that never even gets close to materialising. The main character hardly shows any emotion at all, and when he does it is along the lines of "I was scared". Done. No proper atmosphere, no build-up, nothing. The "scary" parts then last for all of a few sentences before the air fizzles out of a balloon that might as well have been in a vacuum the entire time for all the good it did.

The real pity is that the concept itself isn't too bad. I haven't seen the film based on this book, but I've heard good things about it, and I can see how it might have been turned into a good movie. A movie could add all the things this book sorely lacked. This book badly needed to be longer. It needed to have build-up, atmosphere, suspense... actually, anything it all. Just something more than what it is, which seems like a bare-bones concept on which the meat was intended to be added later.

I also feel a need to mention that I read the first bit of this book on an almost empty bus driving through the dark, then walked through said dark, into my dark flat, and read the rest while lying in a dark room with a mysterious sound on the other sound of the wall I still haven't identified. It would be hard for me to come by an atmosphere that would seem more fitting to this book. I couldn't get engaged with it at all.

I'm confused at the relatively high rating this book has received. Unless the reader is really scared at the story, I don't see what else this book has to offer. And for someone to get properly scared at this book I imagine they not only have to believe in ghosts, but they have to believe that ghosts are, by their very nature, out to do acts of evil. If creaking-noises scare you, and you think that shadow on the wall is about to attack you, you might appreciate this book. Otherwise I don't think you will. ( )
  clq | Oct 31, 2018 |
This is a classic ghost story told in the form of a memory. The main character is asked to tell his family a ghost story. He cannot bring himself to tell them this one, but he recounts it for the readers. It is not a story - it is his version of actual events. The story builds very slowly and involves a lot of detailed descriptions that could be difficult for some teen readers looking for a quick thrill. ( )
  jjcoop76 | Oct 29, 2018 |
A young solicitor is sent from London out to the moors to settle the affairs of a recluse old lady who has just passed on. He finds the local folk reticent on the subject of the woman and her estate which leaves him bemused at first, although he soon discovers the chilly truth for himself and pays a high price for the knowledge.
Good and creepy without being actually outright scary, and I like that. Hill does a lovely job with atmosphere and suspense. A cozy little ghost story in the gothic style. ( )
  electrascaife | Oct 22, 2018 |
3.5 stars

Arthur is a lawyer from London who is sent to a small town where an older woman, Alice, has died. She has no family, so Arthur is sent to settle her estate. At the funeral, he sees a woman in the distance, a mysterious woman in black. Who is she and how is she connected to Alice? As Arthur spends more time at Alice's deserted house and grounds, creepy things start happening.

It took a while for the book to get going for me, but once Arthur got out to Alice's house and weird things started happening, it definitely picked up for me. I would have liked to have been able to read it at home with no distractions and I bet I would have felt the atmosphere of it, even more, as there was definitely an eerie atmosphere to it (unfortunately, I read most of the creepy part of the story on public transit and in a crowded lunchroom). Overall, though, I liked it. It's a fast read and I would also like to see the movie. ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 8, 2018 |
Not scary at all, actually kind of boring. ( )
  bookhookgeek | Sep 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (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
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Pat and Charles Gardner
First words
It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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)

Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north to attend the funeral and settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House, tumbles into a series of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare.

» see all 13 descriptions

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