Saturday, February 23, 2013

REVIEW: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

The Woman in Black is a ghost story set in Victorian London. Arthur Kipps is a young lawyer who's sent to a remote village in the northeastern shores of England to settle the affairs of one of the firm's clients. As he arrives in town, he finds that the locals are pretty tight-lipped over the late Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. And rightly so! As it turns out, eerily strange things have been happening at the house, and soon Arthur himself finds he's being haunted by a strange woman in black, a woman with a pale, gaunt face and a dark air of malevolence all about her.

I have the DVD movie of The Woman in Black waiting in my Netflix queue so I wanted to read the book first, as I often do. The book itself was fairly short, only about 176 pages, and though originally written in 1983, the writing style definitely harks back to that of the more formal Victorian era in which it takes place. In that regard, it's quite different from the standard horror novel of today. Instead of creeping you out with blood and gore, the author uses amazingly vivid descriptions that evoke all sorts of chilling and spine-tingling visions. I can imagine that it would come through to the silver screen quite well and I'm now looking forward to seeing the movie.

The only real reason I didn't rate it higher is because I'm not a huge fan of the more formal writing style of Victorian times. Plus, I sometimes had to look up unfamiliar words--a simple task really since I was reading on my Kindle--but it would break the flow and I'd end up having to reread a particular passage over once I fully understood the word's meaning. Though the exact time frame the story takes place was never mentioned outright, the author writes so well that she doesn't have to; her writing takes you right there!