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The Small Hand & Dolly: Two Novellas (Vintage Original) [Kindle Edition]

Susan Hill
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description


The Small Hand 

Antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow is returning from a client visit when he takes a wrong turn and stumbles upon a derelict Edwardian house with a lush, overgrown garden. As he approaches the door, he is startled to feel the unmistakable sensation of a small, cold hand creeping into his own, almost as though a child has taken hold of it. Shaken, he returns home to find himself plagued by nightmares. But when he decides to investigate the house’s mysteries, he is troubled by increasingly sinister visitations. 
After being orphaned at a young age, Edward Cayley is sent to spend the summer with his forbidding Aunt Kestrel at Iyot house, her decaying estate on the damp, lonely fens in the west of England. With him is his spoiled, spiteful cousin Leonora. And when Leonora’s birthday wish for a beautiful doll is denied, she unleashes a furious rage which will haunt Edward through the years to come.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Versatile, prolific, and polished British writer Hill presents two elegantly constructed ghost stories. Each evokes vengeful spirits relentlessly haunting the bleak English countryside in the wake of impulsive childhood wickedness. Hill further accentuates the malevolent persistence of the past by creating protagonists who are connoisseurs of history. In “The Small Hand,” Adam, a self-possessed, urbane antiquarian bookseller, is on his way to see a client when he stops to explore an estate that has fallen into ruin. There a small hand takes hold of him, as though an invisible child has placed its hand in his. Even when his quest for a Shakespeare first folio leads him to a remote French monastery, the insistent, increasingly alarming small hand follows. In “Dolly,” Edward, an architectural conservationist, returns to the scene of a stormy boyhood summer spent with his willful, wildly unhappy cousin, Leonora. Slowly he discerns, to his horror, that her violent ingratitude may have appalling repercussions. Steeped in folklore, Hill’s supremely atmospheric and utterly unnerving tales of otherworldly retribution lead us deep into the dark labyrinth of the psyche. --Donna Seaman


"A compact, elegantly structured ghost story . . . happens to be one of Hill's specialties. . . . Like all good British ghost-story writers, Hill believes in meticulous structure and very rough justice. . . . Maybe it's the uneasy feeling, or maybe it's the simple pleasure of confident British storytelling craftsmanship, but something pulls you through The Small Hand with relentless urgency. This writer's grip is vicious."
The New York Times Book Review

"Thanks to Hill’s deceptively simple plots and straightforward prose, you won’t even notice the noose she’s slipping around your throat."
The Seattle Times

"Subtle, intelligent, shocking. . . . Shatters nerves with a whisper, not a scream."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A ghost-story duo that may remind many readers of [Stephen] King at his absolute best. . . . Turn on the lights, readers. These tales are the definition of bone chilling."
Suspense Magazine  

"Masterfully done. . . . Subtle, elegant."
The Times (London) 
"Spine-tingling fiction."
The Tattler (London)

"An assuredly chilling ghost story."
The Guardian (London) 

Product Details

  • File Size: 3398 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 24, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4BA3WI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,501 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two novellas, two disappointments... July 30, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I very much enjoyed Susan Hill's THE WOMAN IN BLACK, though I felt the stage version (*not* the two flawed films) was far eerier and made more sense. Still, it was an effective ghost novel. I'm sorry to say that THE SMALL HAND and DOLLY don't come close to replicating the chills of that earlier work.

Of the two new novellas, THE SMALL HAND is much the lesser work. An actual quotation from the book says it all: "For most of the way it was monotonous, rows of pines giving way to yet more." The story is padded immeasurably, and what might have been an effective short story goes on much too long and wears out its welcome. Hill is much more effective with atmosphere than with plot and character, but THE SMALL HAND is 95% atmosphere at the cost of everything else. There is no real *frisson* in the book, when *everything* seems to be directed toward achieving that end. And what atmosphere there is makes no attempt to merge the classic ghost story with the contemporary setting in which the story is based. We still have the same old abandoned Edwardian house and garden, the eerie older woman, the semi-malevolent spirit of a child, and so on. The plot is equally predictable providing few true surprises, but an awful lot of window dressing, and the ending comes as more of an expected relief than a shock.

DOLLY starts off poorly, with the narrator asking paragraph-ending question after question. As with THE SMALL HAND, all the Gothic elements are in place -- the remote estate, the old cemetery, the haunted attic, the demonic child -- and the verbal gothicisms are equally heavy-handed, of the "had I but known how this occurrence would shatter my world," variety.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I keep thinking about these stories. July 23, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've read many of Susan Hill's stories, but not these two. These have previously been released as separate short novels, each being approximately 140 pages long in this volume. The works from Hill aren't scream-in-your-face frightening as is so often done by other authors. For me, her stories stay with me for a long, long time as I continue to think about them. I also tend to read her books more than once which is not something I do with many other authors from this genre. If you are looking for the print version of loud and over-done, you will most likely not be satisfied with these two because Hill uses quiet subtlety to build the drama and tension within her novels.

THE SMALL HAND: Adam Snow takes a wrong turning on his way to meet with a client and finds himself inexplicably drawn to a deserted and decrepit house with a ruined garden. The encounter he has there will continue to have more and more impact on his physical safety and his sanity as time goes on. But not just Adam is controlled by these events as he realizes when he sees a photograph of himself, his brother, and a third boy which he finds while investigating the house.

DOLLY: Edward Cayley meets his cousin Leonora for the first time when they are both sent to spend a summer vacation with their aunt in the fen country. No two children could possibly have been more different and the events of those few short weeks play out for the remainder of their lives.

The two stories have in common that the ghostly incidents began during the early childhood years of both Adam Snow and Edward Cayley. I thought for a while when I began to read DOLLY that they might be too similar, but it didn't take long for the differences to become starkly apparent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One good, one poor August 26, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Susan Hill is the author of "The Woman in Black", and so I expected some very creepy ghost stories. With "The Small Hand" she delivers beautifully. A man, lost while driving to a client's house, accidentally comes across a deserted house and garden in the English countryside and he feels drawn to it; while there, he experiences a small, childlike hand grasping his own- except there is no child there. Most people would want no more to do with the premises at this point, but the man- Adam Snow- delves into the history of the property with the aid of his client's wife. While she does this, though, he finds that the invisible child has followed him- unusual for a ghost as they seem to be tied to a property. And the child keeps trying to pull him into very dangerous situations. Who is this child, and why has he attached himself to Adam? A discover by the client's wife gives him a clue not just to who the child is, but to his own past. The ending was a great surprise to me; it was not what I was expecting. A very good, creepy story.

"Dolly", on the other hand, left me cold, and not in the good, scary way. Cousins Edward and Leonora are sent to spend a summer at their Aunt Kestral's house in the English countryside. Kestral has no children and has no experience dealing with them; the only other person in the house is her housekeeper Mrs. Mullen, who actively dislikes children. The cousins are pretty much on their own and it soon becomes apparent that Leonora is a budding sociopath, just like her mother. When Aunt Kestral, aided by Edward, attempts to give a nice birthday present to Leonora it's not the right doll and she rejects it, smashing on the stone floor. That action is to have consequences forty years down the road.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work by Susan Hill
Two very well written, suspenseful stories.
Published 10 days ago by A Young
2.0 out of 5 stars All atmosphere, all the time (but not much else)
Vintage Books here packages two Susan Hill novels that originally appeared individually in Britain, possibly because they suspected that lumping them together would help disguise... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer Grey
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Story
The writing brought back memories of the old masters..A very nice pair of ghost stories...
Published 5 months ago by Carol Daily
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet Terror
If, when you hear the words "ghost story" your first thoughts are of blood. monsters, and violence, then you will not care for Susan Hill's stories. Read more
Published 8 months ago by John D. Cofield
5.0 out of 5 stars Hill brings you into the story and keeps your interest with great...
I'm a big fan of Susan Hill. This book is actually two short stories that will give you the creeps...but with subtlety. Ms. Read more
Published 8 months ago by C. Brock
4.0 out of 5 stars Brooding, Haunting Stories
In The Small Hand and Dolly, Susan Hill returns to the suspense/horror genre that has been successful for her in the past, with books such as The Woman In Black and Irish Twins. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Sandra Kirkland
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book.
This is exactly what I expected. I wanted some good old fashioned ghost stories,full of atmosphere. And that's what I got. Very entertaining.Susan Hill knew how to deliver.
Published 11 months ago by Randolph O. Saluga
1.0 out of 5 stars Not very scary
This book failed to excite me in any way. I think the two stories were predictable, for the most part, anyway. And there simply wasn't much going on to build suspense.
Published 11 months ago by DWIGHT J. PENAS
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Susan Hill never disappoints. Love her books. I haven't read this yet but I know it will be good. Trust me on the author!
Published 12 months ago by Kat
3.0 out of 5 stars The small hand& dolly two novellas
So the first story started out very interesting than it became clear to me that about 90 per cent of this book is all about the scenery. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Audrey Leonard
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