Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Book #71 The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

The Woman In Black

One Christmas, the stepchildren of Arthur Kipps begin telling ghost stories for fun, and are shocked when their normally benign stepfather loses his temper and goes out into the night. Arthur, it turns out has his own ghost story, and a true one at that, which he begins to relate in the first person to the reader.

As a young solicitor Arthur was sent to close the estate of a woman who died without family in an isolated house in the marshes. Whilst there he begins seeing visions of a mysterious woman in black and experiences other supernatural occurrences, that leave him altered forever.

Sadly, I had several problems with the book, although period pieces are exactly my thing whether they be written in the past as in Dickens or a modern attempt to write a novel in that style such as Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; this novel felt affected, like an attempt at a period tone rather than believable as an actual period novel. A pastiche. For a ghost story I was not particularly scared and as a result of being a short novel it lacked much in the way of incident ghostly or otherwise.

Though the story of the Woman In Black when explained and played out is very sad, it is hard to see why she would harbour a vendetta against either the town or Arthur. The ending is actually bizarre, in many ways it is the novels big reveal, following the opening but once the final event is described the novel ends immediately, abruptly, badly. Almost as if a schoolchild had done it and hadn't known how to conclude the story once all the events had been told. It ends something like "There you are, thats my story" It's weird.

The novel has recently been adapted for the screen and will feature Daniel Radcliffe in the lead, the trailer coincidentally was released today, in contrast to the book, the film seems genuinely creepy and I think this could be one of the occasions whereby the film may prove more enjoyable than the source material it came from. 6/10 

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