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Read The Woman In Black (2001)

The Woman in Black (2001)

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3.65 of 5 Votes: 1
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1567921892 (ISBN13: 9781567921892)
david r. godine publisher

The Woman In Black (2001) - Plot & Excerpts

Originally Reviewed on The Book SmugglersOn a crisp Christmas eve, the elderly Arthur Kipps rests contentedly in front of a roaring fire, surrounded by his stepchildren and loving wife Esme. All is at peace with Arthur's world; all is as it should be. But when the young men start to tell ghost stories, Arthur's idyllic night is ruined. It is only now, after so many years, that Arthur puts his pen to paper and tells the story that haunts him - the story that keeps him up at night shaking with terror, the reason for his distress this Christmas night.Arthur writes of a time, many years earlier when he was a young man, engaged to a lovely young woman, and only starting to make his way in the world as a solicitor. Assigned the task of sorting out the affairs of recently deceased client, the reclusive widow Alice Drablow, Arthur is sent to the small farming town of Crythin Gifford. From the start of his trip, something seems off - every time he attempts to speak with townspeople about the deceased Mrs. Drablow, he is met with deflection, blank faced fear, or completely ignored. Frustrated but eager to do his job, Arthur dismisses the cryptic warnings of the townspeople as superstitious nonsense and makes his way to the desolate and secluded Eel Marsh House. Situated on the marshes at the edge of the town, a place where sea and land are nigh indistinguishable, Eel Marsh House sits quietly, waiting for Arthur. Travel to the house is treacherous and can only be reached by pony and trap on the Nine Lives Causeway - a road that is completely submerged and impossible to traverse once the tide comes in each night. Despite the desolation of the home, despite the words of caution from the town, Arthur takes to the house and decides to stay there - no use making a cab come back and forth for him every day - until he has concluded his business.That is before he realizes that there is something more to Eel Marsh House and Alice Drablow's legacy; before he hears the dying cries from the marsh, night after night; before he spies the wasted woman, dressed in black, with pure malevolence radiating from every fiber of her being.The Woman in Black is Arthur's story - the first and only time he is brave enough to tell it. And dear readers, it is perfect. An atmospheric ghost story of the gothic persuasion, The Woman in Black is spine-chilling, traditional horror at its best. I am so very glad I read this book.A slim volume at under 200 pages, The Woman in Black packs quite the punch and is an exercise in restraint - part of the reason I personally feel that many horror novels fail is because of a desire to pack in as much possible descriptive language as possible, as well as a tendency towards unnecessary (lengthy) explanation. Ms. Hill's novel, however sparse with page count, is dense in the development of its ideas and the execution of atmosphere. And, like the best storytellers, this author knows when her tale is done, and that the most horrific and frightening things are best left stated sparsely (as the end of the novel proves). There are no tawdry descriptions of cobwebbed halls or specters bathed in blood, wailing pathetically as they roam the halls of a haunted manor - rather, Ms. Hill's work relies on the creation of atmosphere, of setting and the unsettling feeling of terror that awakens and quickens in our narrator's heart, slowly, gradually, and subtly. The success of The Woman in Black hinges entirely on description - but instead of describing the spectacle of ghosts, Susan Hill focuses on description of setting. Eel Marsh House is a place that holds its own with some of the finest iconic places of horror and the macabre; desolate as it is, Eel Marsh House stands with Hill House, the House of Usher, Amityville, and Hell House. I loved the palpable sense of hopelessness and isolation as Arthur recounts the still beauty - and malevolence - of the solid stone manor at the edge of the world. What better place to lay a story of despair and hate, of unfulfilled vengeance and desire for death? For, even as the adroitly detailed setting is what makes the novel succeed, at its heart, The Woman in Black is a ghost story about a specter with unfinished business, and Arthur, our unfortunate narrator, the man who catches her attention. I don't want to spoil the story, but I will simply say that it works. As straightforward and traditional a tale as this is, it works.In terms of writing, I would be remiss if I did not mention Ms. Hill's command of language and style, fitting in perfectly with this post-Victorian/early-Edwardian narration. Like Eel Marsh House, caught between land and sea, so too is narrator Arthur Kipps torn between an age of rationality and the Victorian superstitions and ghost stories of the past. This struggle expertly characterizes Arthur and his narrative throughout, and it makes him more than just a talking head for a ghost story by humanizing his flawed, unfortunate character.Ultimately, The Woman In Black does exactly what it should - it creeps, it unsettles, it horrifies. I loved this smart, gothic horror novel and eagerly await the film in 2012 (even if the film is terrible, you'll have this amazing little book to fall back on). Absolutely recommended - and I am making Ana read it immediately.

I keep hearing that this novella by Susan Hill is written like an homage to classic writers such as James, Bronte, and Dickens. Having said that I greatly enjoyed this one; however, many people who made that comparison did not really like this read, which makes me really want to read some of these classic writers now, and I will very soon, purchases have been made =)=Mini Summary (spoilers)=Arthur Kipps has a loving wife, a large family and a secret that's haunted him for years. He'd planned to keep the painful past buried, but, as per a Christmas Eve tradition, an innocent exchange of ghost stories among his children brought old skeletons to the surface. Now Arthur plans to put it out of his mind by putting pen to paper once and for all. The terror began at the start of his career as a solicitor/realtor. His boss, Mr. Bentley, sent him from the London office to settle an estate off the beaten path of a tiny town of Crythin Gifford. Situated near salt marshes, Crythin Gifford was simultaneously a desolate and beautiful place, a world of gray and silver and silence broken only by the lonely cries of sea birds. As he went about his business in town it became evident to Arthur that the client, whose affairs must wrap up, a widow Alice Drablow, wasn't much loved by the town's inhabitants. Her dilapidated manor house out on the marshes, cut off from the mainland daily by the rising tides, abandoned and unvisited. As Arthur sorted through her hoarded mass of paperwork, he began to sense a brooding evil hovering about the place, fixing itself upon anyone who dares breach the estate's perimeter.=End Mini Summary (spoilers)=It's a classic ghost story, I haven't read too many of them but this one I loved. The Woman in Black not only involves a ghost with a sinister purpose and elements of the supernatural, but also a curse as well. If Hill's mission was to create a 19th century Gothic feel to her book, I believe she was successful. The setting is perfect for this tale, and the descriptions of Crythin Gifford and Eel Marsh House were great: a remote marshland and rural area far away from city life. When Kipps gets there, he realizes that, due to the marshland, there are times when the mist rolls in and encompasses the small community. This fits in perfectly with the events that transpire, and go right in line with Kipps' fragile state of mind. This paired with the hushed mouthed townsfolk create the eerie and creepy setting. Overall a solid little light weight read I would recommend any mystery/horror fan. The setting and descriptions made the tale. Now I need to read some of these classics I keep hearing so much about.

What do You think about The Woman In Black (2001)?

I said in another review that I'm near impossible to scare because my parents were relaxed with horror movie censorship when I was a young kid. I was oversaturated with horror from a young age and tend to find it more laughable than spine-tingling.However, this book may be the only exception I have found so far. In recent years I have flat-out avoided horror stories because they do nothing for me... I can stomach Stephen King but only because his books tend to be about more than the basic horror element. For me to find this book, a book that is entirely a horror story, to be so enjoyable and so frightening is quite incredible.I don't need to tell you what it's about, you can read that in countless descriptions, but I do need to say just how much this scared me and had me sleeping with the light on all night and jumping up at every single creak and sigh. The image of the woman stood in the marshes with her face wasting away is so vividly described that it was all I could picture for days, I kept looking over my shoulder when I was by myself expecting to see her stood there in her long black cloak. This lady does very little and is still probably the most frightening character I've ever come across in a novel. I would not recommend you read this while alone in the house... especially if it can scare someone so immune to horror like me.
—Emily May

Hmm. A pseudo-Victorian gothic ghost story that has a very un-Victorian length of 140 pages. To be honest, it's not very good. It reminds me of 14 year old me when I started reading things like Dracula, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and thinking 'there's not much to this writing a classic novel business- I should give it a try'. Cue the dull, rational protagonist (lawyer or doctor obviously) who is thrown into some spooky goings-on and slowly becomes undone in such default settings as spooky misty moore or haunted house. What I didn't understand when I was 14, as Susan Hill doesn't seem to understand in the 1980's when this was written, is that imitation is not all that flattering when it comes to novel writing. Those Victorian/pre-Victorian novels, that everyone now knows, are classics, not for their content, but for how revolutionary they were in their own time and how different they were from what came before them. They were then a reaction against Romanticism, a way to make people's skin crawl in a time when the rational began to, unfavourably for some, overtake the irrational and mystical/religious. This story is displaced in time, adding nothing, and doing nothing.It is a cliche from beginning to end. Seriously. Look up a list of all the features needed to create a Gothic novel and you can tick them off on a checklist whilst reading it. And if you're thinking, like me, that there is going to be a huge, redeeming twist at the end that throws everything that comes before it into a riotous question would be wrong. It really is trying to be a legitimate Gothic novel. It doesn't even have an interesting, dubious protagonist ala 'The Turn of the Screw'. It is really....nothing.However, saying all this you are probably wondering why I have even given it two stars. Well. Embarrassingly enough, this silly ghost story gave me the creeps a little bit. So it partly did it's job I guess. Faces at the window, unlocked doors opening themselves, dogs howling, children screaming, rocking chairs inexplicably set a-rocking...these kinds of things never fail to make me uneasy. And the writing's not terrible. But then, nothing much happens for the first 100 pages and, while many people may call this build-up and making the reader feel tense and uneasy in anticipation of the climax, it was done quite poorly and I wasn't as scared as I should've been. It was quite boring really and my eyes glazed quite a bit during that section.Anyway, disappointment aside, I am glad I read this ahead of the film as now I probably won't bother seeing it. Although as the ending is...upsetting to say the least (it is the ONLY harrowing bit of the book and is well-written enough to make you feel a jolt of...something) it is so obvious and so expected as to be almost a shock when it actually happens! I can already barely remember the name of the main character...I have a feeling I am not gonna remember this short story for very long at all.

I am honestly concerned that some are going to be misled by the descriptions floating around about this book and possibly miss out on enjoying a great, true to the classic style, ghost story.I almost didn't pick this book up because I kept hearing that it is "The scariest ghost story of our time" and "Beware, it will keep you awake at night". It wasn't until I heard it was written in the style of the classic ghost story that I thought I would give it a shot.Maybe, for some, it is truly a blood-chilling horror but I didn't get that feeling from this book at all. The only description that rings true for me is "...a ghost story by Jane Austen. Austen we cannot, alas, give you, but Susan Hill's remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as the late twentieth century is likely to provide."For those of you wanting to scare yourself senseless, this isn't likely to do much for you.For those who enjoy the classic authors and are looking for a ghost story you haven't read, this might be just the thing.
—Karen Heart

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