The Woman In Black, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs Alice Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows.

The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but 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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780099562979



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Where I got the book: purchased on Amazon.As this is the movie tie-in edition I feel justified in talking about the movie as well. I was a big fan of Susan Hill's ghost stories way back when, so it's fun to revisit them - inspired, of course, by watching one of the hands-down creepiest movies I've seen in a long time. Brrrrrrr.The novella follows the old-fashioned ghost story format: leisurely set-up with a story-within-a-story structure, the "now I must tell my tale but I really don't want to" method. The narrator takes his time bringing the reader into the story, with some superb atmospheric location shots (so to speak) - I could really see the flat water of the estuary with sea blending into sky, or was I remembering the scene from the movie? (The location you see in the movie, by the way, is apparently a composite - not really an island.)Then you get to the really creepy stuff - and it was, although not nearly as much as the film version. But still, I wouldn't recommend reading this one alone in a dark house at midnight with the wind howling. And we finish up with a kicker, or Carrie moment as I like to term them - again, in a style consistent with older ghost literature. I would have preferred some more foreshadowing of the ending, for the atmosphere of the earlier chapters to be sustained right up to the finish; I felt that Hill was reaching to finish with a bang.What was interesting, though, was that a plot point that was made much of in the movie is not brought into the book until the end. The movie, in fact, imposed a structure on the story that the author didn't give it, and I think it was an improvement. I ended up feeling as if the novella was a first-draft sort of affair that provided plenty of atmosphere and all the important elements but needed work, and the movie was the finished version. Would I have thought that if I'd read the book first (and maybe I did, but it would have been 25+ years ago and my memory's not that good).Recommended, anyway. Susan Hill's always good value.