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The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story Paperback – January 3, 2012
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"A rattling good yarn, the sort that chills the mind as well as the spine." --The Guardian
"Excellent. . . . magnificently eerie. . . . compulsive reading." --Evening Standard
"The most brilliantly effective spine chillder you will ever encounter." --The Daily Telegraph
"[A] highly efficient chiller. . . . Nerve shredding." --The Daily Express
About the Author
Susan Hill has been a professional writer for over fifty years. Her books have won the Whitbread, the John Llewellyn Prize, and the W. Somerset Maugham Award, and have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her novels include Strange Meeting, I`m the King of the Castle and A Kind Man, and she has also published collections of short stories and two autobiographies. Her ghost story, The Woman in Black, has been running in London’s West End since 1988. Susan is married with two adult daughters and lives in North Norfolk.
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p.s. If you love this book, you might want to give Haunted by Tamara Thorne a read as well. Both are brilliantly spooky.
The book has also been adapted into a stage play by Stephen Mallatratt. It is the second longest-running play in the history of the West End, after The Mousetrap. The story begins with Arthur Kipps, a now retired solicitor formerly working for and replacing a Mr. Bentley, in his house with his wife Esme and four stepchildren, who begin telling ghost stories. However, when he is asked, he becomes irritated and leaves the room, and begins to write of his experiences several years before.
Many years earlier, whilst still a junior solicitor for Bentley, Kipps was summoned to Crythin Gifford, a small market town on the north east coast of the United Kingdom, to attend the funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow. Kipps is initially reluctant to leave his fianceé Stella, but is eager to leave the london smog. The late Drablow was an elderly and reclusive widow who lived alone in the desolate and secluded Eel Marsh House.
The house is situated on Nine Lives Causeway. At high tide, it is completely cut off from the mainland, surrounded only by marshes and sea frets. Kipps soon realises there is more to Alice Drablow than he originally thought. At the funeral, he sees a woman dressed in black and with a pale face and dark eyes, which a group of children are silently watching. Over the course of several days, while sorting through Mrs. Drablow's papers at Eel Marsh House, he endured an increasingly terrifying sequence of unexplained noises, chilling events and hauntings by the Woman in Black. In one of these instances, he heard the sound of a horse and carriage in distress, closely followed by the screams of a young child and his maid, coming from the direction of the marshes.
The Woman in Black opens with members of Arthur Kipps' family telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve as a part of a harmless, fun tradition. Kipps, obviously uncomfortable with the game, is even more agitated when one relative asks him to tell a ghost story. In a troubled reflection, Kipps decides (after bolting to another room) that the best course of action is to exorcise his troubled conscience about an incident long ago, to relate a very real ghost story that has consumed him for years, a story involving a mysterious woman in black.
The Woman in Black not only involves a ghost with a sinister purpose and elements of the supernatural, but also a curse as well.
Hill stated in an article that she wanted to create a 19th century Gothic kind of feel to her book. Whether she accomplishes this is up to debate, but I don't think when the story takes place is as important as where it takes place. The setting is perfect for this tale--a remote marshland and rural area far away from city life. When Kipps gets there, he realizes that there are times when the mist rolls in, which encompasses the small community. This fits in perfectly with the events that transpire, and goes in line with Kipps' fragile state of mind.
The build up to Kipps arriving at Eel Marsh House is quite effective also, as the locals are quite "hush hush" about Kipps' inquiries into the late Mrs. Drablow. There's nothing like spooked townspeople that can make an outsider curious. Determined to finish business of her papers, Kipps senses that a presence lurks within the house and surrounding area. What is particularly effective is the way the house and its past pull Kipps into its history; despite his fear, he begins to be obsessed with unearthing all the past dark secrets.
A ghost story in the old fashioned tradition, The Woman in Black is one to be read on a dark and dreary night.
So, when I learned a few days ago that the movie had been based off a book, I wasted no time in getting it.
To my delight, the book is just as creepy as it's film version. The two have differences, to be sure, but the overall tone of both are very similar. If you are if you are looking for something creepy to read that doesn't delve into gore or stuff like that, you can't wrong with this one.