Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The last of my saga of reading Ghost stories by Susan Hill and then complaining about how bad they are.

Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. 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.

Once again Susan Hill brings a pointless ghost story to the table. The Woman in Black is the best of Hill's collection of ghost stories. That does not make it good. It still has terrible slow start and incredibly dull characters.

I don't know why but Hill can't make sympathetic characters. I think with horror especially, it's important you care for the characters because otherwise what's the point. That rational part of your brain might be temporary tricked into being spooked by supernatural story but then you remember whilst house might be haunted in all 8 years of living there, they've done you no harm. Maybe the reason the characters are so unlikeable is because they always so privileged and we really learn nothing about them. All I know about Arthur is that he a lawyer with a country house.

There is actually a reason why the ghost is spitefully this time. She is frankly stupid spitefully but at least Arthur might actually did something to annoy her. Slight Spoiler warning, her kid who she was focused to give away because you know the times dies and then everyone else kids should die apparently.

The worst part is how freaked out Arthur gets over nothing. He goes from calm to terrified in a few sentence and it's not like something happens in those sentences. Yeah, like oh a creepy atmosphere suddenly. He doesn't see the ghost but in a state for days afterwards. He's frankly a wimp. The horror is just really badly written. There is not a single fearfully moment in the whole dam book.

It's written in the same lack of tension and imitation of Victorian Literature (which makes sense since that when its sort of set. Maybe it actually Edwardian though).  Hill can obviously write to a proper quality. That's all can be said.

Overall, it better than other ones. I gave it 2 stars for dead children. Yeah, that's all I've got to say.

P.S. this shows up the Wednesday before Halloween due to pure coincidence. 

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