The Woman In Black

I don't like scary movies, but I do enjoy a good ghost story, and this modern classic by Susan Hill has been on my radar for a long time. I picked up the movie tie-in edition from Brotherhood Books, and was surprised at how slender it was -- I'd been expecting a fat clunker! But this relatively short tale certainly punches above its weight, and is all the more effective for its economy. In this case, less is more.

Young solicitor Arthur Kipps is quite excited at first when he's sent on a solo mission to sort out a dead woman's estate. But the eerie, isolated Eel Marsh House, set on the end of a causeway that's submerged at high tide, and beset by swirling mists, holds some sinister secrets…

Chills aplenty, simple but effective, and though it was published in 1983, stylistically it reads like a high Victorian ghost story (though it's certainly not a difficult read). This actually confused me in places, as I started out picturing the story taking place in Sherlock Holmes' London (peasouper fogs, fusty lawyers' offices, train journeys), and then suddenly there were motor cars and telephones and electric lights! I'm still not entirely sure exactly when the novel was supposed to be set. There were references to the ghostly figure's clothing dating from 'sixty years ago', but then the date on her gravestone was '190--', and I can't make out how that would possibly work!

I haven't seen the film, though I might if my 14 year old is keen (she is reading the book after me). From the google images, they seem to have done their best to make Daniel Radcliffe look like David Tennant. Which is not necessarily a bad thing...

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