Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Woman in Black - Susan Hill

Publication Details:

Published by Vintage Hammer in 2012 (first published in 1983)
200 pages
12 chapters

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the sol inhabitant of Eel Marsh House, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but it is not until Arthur 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 speak of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose.

Sounds awesome and scary, right?! Unfortunately, that is not the case. First off, Susan's writing style; I hate to say I wasn't a fan of it. A huge bookish pet peeve of mine is when the author writes really long, unnecessary paragraphs. I can stand these types of paragraphs if they show up occasionally and are about 3/4's of a page-a page at a stretch. However, with this book, these long paragraphs popped up extremely often and were usually about a full page-a page and a half in length. The reason I hate this - especially in a horror/thriller/creepy novel - is because it slows the pace of the book away down and completely weakens the thrill that this novel is supposed to provide to the reader. I feel like I would have enjoyed this book a bit more if there were a lot less of these unnecessarily long paragraphs as it would have sped the book up a lot more and kept me in suspense. This alone took a star immediately off my final rating.

The only character that we really get a chance to get to know and connect with is the main character himself; Arthur Kipps. I'm unsure about how I feel about Arthur, I didn't dislike him, but I didn't really love him either, I felt like I didn't know him personally which is how I usually like to feel towards the main character of a book. I did feel sympathy towards Arthur in his times of fear whilst he became a temporary resident of Eel Marsh House. Being surrounded by something that his 'other-worldly' is something I'm sure nobody wants so I definitely felt like I wanted him to make it through this trip and finish the job as quick as possible. Unfortunately though, this is the only emotion I felt towards Arthur and didn't care much for his character for the rest of the book.

Overall, I hate to say it, but I didn't enjoy this book at all. It was such a disappointment for me. I only enjoyed about 20 pages of this book - of 200 pages! - at a stretch, which is just horrible. For the 180 pages I didn't really enjoy is because I felt like there was absolutely nothing happening. The majority of the book is about Arthur travelling back and forth between Eel Marsh House and the town of Cryhtin Gifford, and then it talked about how Arthur needed to sort through Mrs Alice Drablow's paperwork and sort everything out. That's it. Nothing else happened apart from the occasional appearance of The Woman in Black which got me excited for something to happen, but nothing ever did. This book is basically a constant build up for something that doesn't even happen. There is no climax and I didn't enjoy it at all. Even though Susan Hill does create an eery and creepy atmosphere with the way she describes locations and the woman in black herself, this book just didn't do it for me in any way.

This book was adapted into a film in 2012 starring Daniel Radcliffe (anyone heard of him?) and on this rare occasion, I would recommend you watch the movie and avoid the book. The movie was much more suspenseful and thrilling in comparison to the dull and uneventful book. Disappointing read unfortunately.

2 out of 5 stars!

Check out my YouTube video review of The Woman in Black!

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