I’ve been meaning to read ‘The Woman in Black’ for quite some time and the recent release of the film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe spurred me on (I have a rule about reading the book before seeing the film).
The story is about a young solicitor dispatched to the east coast of England to deal with the aftermath of the reclusive Mrs Drablow’s estate following her death. Isolated in Eel Marsh House, home of Mrs Drablow, Arthur Kipps begins to hear odd noises and encounter all manner of strange happenings.
This is a slow-burner and becomes all the more frightening because of the almost-imperceptible-but-constant build-up of tension. The woman doesn’t even feature until after halfway through the story however, there is a constant feeling of unease throughout this tale.
Hill’s beautiful descriptions of the countryside and Eel Marsh House make it possible to almost see what she is describing, such is the detail she includes. As the reader, you understand why Arthur is so terrified.
Hill’s slow but effective build-up of tension and intelligent stories throws all manner of red herrings into question but when the final big reveal came, I was left with shivers down my spine.
I really respect this story as a prime example that you don’t need blood and gore to be scary. A true ghost story, miss it at your peril.