The Woman In Black (book) tells the story of Arthur Kipps, a London solicitor who has been charged with wrapping up the affairs of a deceased client. He travels up to a small town in the north of England, where the old lady lived in a rambling house out on the marshes. When he starts going through her effects, more about the house’s sad history are revealed.
Firstly, I really liked the premise of the book. Eel Marsh House is stuck out on a piece of land in the marshes with regular mists and a causeway that floods with the high tide cutting it off from the mainland. It really is the perfect setting for a ghost story. The story behind the story was interesting too - a fallen woman reaching out from the grave to avenge the death of the child who was taken from her. All good.
So why only two stars?
The plot wasn’t awesome. It had the potential to be great, but for a ghost story I would usually expect more tension and spookiness. There were some tense scenes, but they were very few and far between and the author’s writing style didn’t really lend itself to tension - it was too descriptive and this slowed the action down. I actually found myself slightly bored in some places.
I didn’t really understand the narrator’s actions either. After his first spooky encounter with the house, he manages to convince himself that actually everything is fine and starts to look forward to going back the next day. Hello? It didn’t make sense to me, and it made me look back at the previous spooky scene and think that it was maybe not so spooky after all.
Another bugbear for me was that we didn’t find out the true extent of the woman in black’s power until the very end of the book. It would have made the story a lot creepier if we had known what was at stake from the beginning.
*whispers* The film was better.
Okay, that’s not something you’ll hear me say often - or ever, really - but in this case it was true. The film was better. Creepier, more suspenseful, more atmospheric, better characterisation, just ... better. And I don’t even really like horror films.
So yeah. I’ve read creepier books and I’ve read better-written books.