This really struck a chord with me so I've decided to set myself a challenge of sorts to try and rein in my book-buying habit - a 'three out, one in' system. It's been going to plan since I started at the beginning of April, but I have to confess I've been cheating a little by reaching mainly for the thinnest books on my shelves, little novellas I can whizz through in a day! Books like this one.
This is a something that I should have got around to reading ages ago. I had it lined up for my RIP challenge in the Autumn but just wasn't in the mood to read it back then. I tend to think that horror stories like this are perfect for dark and blustery days, but I eventually picked this up on a gloriously sunny Sunday and enjoyed it just the same, finishing it in a few hours.
Many people may be familiar with this spooky tale after seeing the successful movie adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe. I haven't seen it, so didn't have much idea of what to expect. Arthur Kipps is a junior solicitor trying to build a reputation and gain experience in his field. So when his boss offers him the chance to travel to the isolated rural town of Crythin Gifford to arrange the affairs of the recently deceased Mrs Alice Drablow, he agrees at once. On arrival in the town it is clear that something isn't quite right with the Drablow estate, but the locals keep their mouths tightly shut and diligent Arthur is determined to press on with his work. But a creeping sense of unease descends as he tries to uncover Mrs Drablow's secrets and find out the identity of the mysterious woman in black who seems to be keeping an eye on his every action.
This is a small and perfectly formed horror story written in the tradition of the Victorian Gothic classics. I'm not sure if I thought it good enough to be considered as a classic in its own right, but it is certainly very satisfying. Susan Hill's writing is beautifully descriptive and paints an incredibly vivid picture of the eerie, fog-drenched landscape of the salt marshes. It's one of those books where I truly don't see how the film could match up to the perfect images that the prose conjures up in your mind - I can't imagine it having the same impact. The suspense builds slowly up to a chilling climax. If anything stopped me from truly loving The Woman In Black it would be the fact that I didn't really engage with Arthur as a character and found him a little dull. However, it is short enough for that not to pose too great a problem. Give this a read if you're in the mood for some shivers down your spine.