Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill


I hope you’re all enjoying the spookiest day of the year and have some scary plans for this evening! To start your Halloween off on the right foot, here’s a review of a classic ghost story – enjoy!

IMG-3543Blurb: Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice
Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House. The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but 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 โ€“ and her terrible purpose.

Title:ย The Woman in Black

Author:ย Susan Hill

Publisher:ย Vintage, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Genre:ย Fiction, Horror


This book tells us the story of a classic ghost haunting from the point of view of the main character, Arthur Kipps, and his spooky experiences at Eel Marsh House. He is forced to think back to his younger days when, acting as the lawyer in charge of a deceased woman’s estate, he encounters something supernatural. As the story continues, we are able to understand more of the backstory behind these haunting events and the worrying reactions of the people of Crythin Gifford when Eel Marsh House comes up in conversation.

I must say that this book was extremely well written. The detail given in the descriptions of the elusive ghostly woman and Eel Marsh House was fantastic and really made me feel as though I could imagine them exactly as the author intended. The story was well paced and I didn’t feel like I was waiting around for something to happen to Arthur, nor was I lost in a barrage of events that were happening too quickly. I enjoyed the chilling setting and thought that the addition of the Nine Lives Causeway (that can only be crossed when the tide is out, leaving the inhabitants of the house stranded at high tide) was inventive and added to the spooky feeling of the setting.

However, despite all of that, I didn’t find this book particularly scary. This was a bit of a let down for me (and is to blame for the slightly lower rating) as I had higher hopes for being scared after seeing the film adaption. Of course, I understand that it is much easier to frighten someone visually than by using words as you can’t simply rely on jump scares and really have to craft a chilling scene that makes you want to check over your shoulder, but I just didn’t get that from this book. As beautifully detailed as the descriptions were and as awful an image that the woman (and the ending!) created in my mind, it wasn’t something that haunted me when I wasn’t reading.

Overall, this book is a really classic ghost story that I’m sure we’ve all heard some variation of and was an enjoyable read. The story maintains its level of excellent description and chilling setting without becoming boring and the pace is not too slow or too fast. However, if you’re picking up this book with the hope of being terrified, then I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. I wasn’t left looking over my shoulder or searching the shadows for a figure in black but did find that some aspects of the plot were pretty chilling. I guess when it comes to horror books, it’s all about what frightens you and leaves you feeling unsettled!

Rating: 3.5/5

Recommend?:ย Yes, if you’re main aim in reading this isn’t to be scared silly.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Is it on your TBR list? Or maybe you’ve seen the movie? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Instagram and Twitter if youโ€™d like to discuss this book (or any others that Iโ€™ve featured) or to send me some of your horror recommendations! Give me something that will really give me a fright!ย ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ‘ป

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7 thoughts on “Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

  1. Great review!!! I read this a few years ago, I enjoyed reading it but agree wasn’t very scary. I saw the movie after reading the book and I actually thought in this instance the movie was better.

    Liked by 1 person

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