The Woman in Black, written by Susan Hill, is a pretty-near pitch-perfect impersonation of a Gothic Horror novel – a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, is only too happy to head out into the countryside and escape the London pea-soupers.
He is called out to attend, on his firm’s behalf, the funeral of a Mrs Alice Drablow, a reclusive old woman who died in her isolated home, the Eel Marsh House. He decides to stay overnight at the home, in order to better get her papers in order, but that is when the hauntings begin to truly manifest…
“No, no, you have none of you any idea. This is all nonsense, fantasy, it is not like this. Nothing so blood-curdling and becreepered and crude – not so…so laughable. The truth is quite other, and altogether more terrible.”
The Woman is Black is told as the reminiscence of the harrowing events of Kipps’ youth, after he storms out of the traditional Christmas Eve ghost stories, and decides to set down to paper his story, to be read only after his death.
By modern ghost/horror standards, nothing much happens. But the prose of this novel makes it almost worthwhile. I was disappointed with the ending, perhaps because I’d already guessed what was going to happen, or perhaps because of that feeling that nothing much at all happened. I finished the novel in ~5 hours, hoping that something would eventuate.