Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black is one of the most recognisable ghost stories to come out of Great Britain, the story of Arthur Kipps travelling to the home of his recently deceased client in the the far and withdrawn village of Crythin Grifford, where he is slowly driven mad by his obsession with the ghost of Jennet Humphrey has stuck with its readers for years to come and is a truly spine chilling tale.

As per usual once I purchase a book I do a bit of research into the author, this time it was Susan Hill who wrote the tale as part of her series “A Ghost Story”, the book was released in 1983 but it is written with such a brilliant gothic style that you could easily be tricked into thinking that it was a much older spooky story from hundreds of years prior.

To be completely honest the story is so perfectly written and crafted that I don’t have any criticisms so this is going to be more a celebratory review where I can share my appreciation for a horror book that truly sent a chill down my spine.

Its cold and crisp Christmas Eve and Arthur Kipps is visiting his family, during the fun and games of the night a challenge of scary stories is brought amongst our party goers, in a circle each person tells a tale in order to spook the guests, the idea scares Arthur as he has truly experienced the paranormal and lived to tell the tale, left only with haunting memories and a broken heart.

We read the novel from Arthur’s point of view it is written as such that Arthur is telling the ghost story of the Woman in Black of Eel Marsh House.

Arthur is visiting the house to gather the affairs of his recently deceased client Alice Drablow, the house is in utter despair the papers are everywhere and everything is in a mess. The towns folk begged Arthur to not spend the night inside of the home but he didn’t head their warnings and stays anyway.

Throughout his stay in the village of Crython Grifford Arthur keeps seeing a Woman dressed in traditional black mourning clothes, the eerie specter begins to drive Arthur mad as he researches the presence leading him down a rabbit hole of theories, child murders and genuine fear that himself or his family may become the next victim of the Woman in Black!.

The book is truly terrifying throughout its gothic nature and disturbing story telling the deaths of children as innocent as they can be is always something we don’t want to think about and this story uses such a dark premise to make the reader truly feel threatened by its antagonist and will have you secretly praying that you don’t meet eyes with such a grizzly ghoul.

The story is perfectly written and to be loved by any horror fan although trigger warnings for the deaths of children and one near the end of the novel which is particularly horrible to read about might put some readers off.

There are multiple adaptations of the book and I am pleased to say that I think I have seen all of them the most recognisable would probably be the Daniel Radcliffe adaptation from 2012 my least favourite due to its major differences to the original story even adding a “happier” ending compared to most other versions.

My most recommended would either be to watch the 1989 adaptation which is much scarier and has fewer changes apart from its ending, it also has an excellent cast and is truly almost as scary as the book.

Finally the play I remember being very good but to be honest it has been a long while since I last saw a production so until it is fresh in my head again I cant truly give too much opinion on it.

I hope that by reading my review you have been encouraged to go out and grab a copy of the original book and experience it for yourself, if you don’t enjoy reading there is also a fantastic audible version narrated by Paapa Essiedu, I found this after reading the story and the production was so fantastic with original music, back ground sounds and a brilliant reader to build the atmosphere it is a great option… It is also FREE !! yep free of charge courtesy of audible so please check it out if you can.

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