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The Woman in Black

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  24,135 ratings  ·  3,266 reviews
What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller--one that chills the body, but warms the soul with plot, perception, and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story written by Jane Austen?

Alas, we cannot give you Austen, but Susan Hill's remarkable Woman In Black comes as close
Paperback, 138 pages
Published December 1st 2001 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1983)
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Aaron VanAlstine Well, I don't know about scarier but Shirley Jackson's book The Haunting of Hill House is pretty creepy and atmospheric. Also, her short story The…moreWell, I don't know about scarier but Shirley Jackson's book The Haunting of Hill House is pretty creepy and atmospheric. Also, her short story The Summer People is probably the scariest short story I ever read.(less)
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Ghost Stories
6th out of 848 books — 1,352 voters
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónRebecca by Daphne du MaurierThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Modern Gothic
8th out of 411 books — 934 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily May
I said in another review that I'm near impossible to scare because my parents were relaxed with horror movie censorship when I was a young kid. I was oversaturated with horror from a young age and tend to find it more laughable than spine-tingling.

However, this book may be the only exception I have found so far. In recent years I have flat-out avoided horror stories because they do nothing for me... I can stomach Stephen King but only because his books tend to be about more than the basic horror
Ademilson Moraes
A family gathers around a Christmas fire to share ghost stories in the British tradition, only to drive their eldest, Arthur Kipps, staggering out into the winter snow in a paroxysm of remembered terror. Hours later he returns to the house determined to finally exorcise, by writing out his tale, the thing that's haunted him all these years - the memory of the Woman in Black. So begins the tale of a young solicitor sent to sort out the papers of the deceased Alice Drablow and the mystery of Eel M ...more

Rating Clarification: 2.5 stars.

Disappointing and predictable, this Gothic ghost story isn't a patch on the classics of the genre such as Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. The writing is uneven and the author fails to keep the suspense building often interspersing awkward/boring moments between the tense scenes, which unfortunately were all too few. Part of the problem with the tension was that it was all so predictable I didn't even feel the need to check the ending like I usually do. In othe
Bill  Kerwin

A disappointment. I kept hearing about how this was a real honest-to-god, old-fashioned ghost story steeped in the tradition of James and James (Henry and Montague Rhodes)that delivered a frisson of genuine terror and some very fine writing as well. Alas! I didn't find any of this to be true.

For starters, I didn't believe the narrator. He is a man in his forties--self-described as "unimaginative"--who years before suffered a scarring supernatural experience, yet he sounds for all the world like

I make a habit of not watching the based on movie before reading the propagating book, so that fact that I’m reading not one but two of said unfortunate works (A Clockwork Orange sneaking in during my youth due to college fanboys and the like) is not something I plan on ever happening again. However, it happened, and I will not lie that my expectations have been adjusted accordingly.

While the book is horror, the movie is horror horror horror, tragic past combined with morbidly saturated cin
A chilling, traditional ghost story, with a strong Victorian feel: a lone lawyer goes to a spooky house on the marshes, plagued by stories of madness and death. No great surprises, but shocking none-the-less. It is skilfully written, so that most of the scary stuff happens in your head, rather than being explicit on the page.

Arthur Kipps, the main character and the narrator is very pragmatic and always tries to dismiss his fears and find a rational explanation, which serves to make his
Kwesi 章英狮
Every November we used to play and go in someone's houses and go hunting the ghost that lurks. It seems that I read the book earlier than what I have thought. I can feel the tingle of the cold and smell of the estuary. The dead is coming and hunting me again a little earlier than what I thought.

When Arthur Kipps asked to summon and attend a funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow, the inhabitant and owner of Eel Marsh House, secrets and lies behind the four walls of the house went blown through the atmosp
A very good ghost story with creepy sounds, a marsh with lots of fog and danger, and a haunting revengeful spirit. I was all set to give this book a strong 3 stars until the last chapter's chilling, horrid surprise ending. Now I can't wait to see the movie with Daniel Radcliffe. This is a GREAT October read!
Hmm. A pseudo-Victorian gothic ghost story that has a very un-Victorian length of 140 pages. To be honest, it's not very good. It reminds me of 14 year old me when I started reading things like Dracula, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and thinking 'there's not much to this writing a classic novel business- I should give it a try'. Cue the dull, rational protagonist (lawyer or doctor obviously) who is thrown into some spooky goings-on and slowly becomes undone in such default settings ...more
Daniel Kaine
I've always loved a good ghost film, so after seeing 'The Woman in Black' advertised at a bus stop, I decided I absolutely had to go see this film. Imagine my surprise when I found out it had originally been a book! Well, that changes everything, I thought. I have to read the book first! And so I did.

'The Woman in Black' tells the tale of Arthur Kipp, a solicitor acting on behalf of the late Mrs. Drablow, attempting to sort out her affairs. Mrs. Drablow was an old recluse, living in a small hous
Gloria Mundi
I read this book mainly because I went to see the play at the Fortune Theatre in London a few weeks ago. The play was really good. It wasn't the scariest thing I have ever experienced, as some reviews claim, but it did make me jump and it was a fantastic performance carried entirely by two actors, with most of the fear factor delivered through good old fashioned darkness, sudden noises, closeness of the atmosphere (it was the smallest theatre I have ever been in) and the audience interaction (th ...more
Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

’Yes, I had a story, a true story, a story of haunting and evil, fear and confusion, horror and tragedy.


Arthur Kipps is a junior solicitor from London who has been asked by his employer to attend the funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow in Crythin Gifford. He must also visit her residence in order to collect any important paperwork that she may have been left behind. Arthur sees the woman in black at Mrs. Drablow’s funeral and again at her reside
Glenn Sumi

Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black has all the elements of the classic English ghost story:

• an isolated estate that includes one locked room at the end of the hall
• an unwitting protagonist (in this case a junior lawyer going over a dead woman’s papers)
• a tragic event in the dead woman’s past
• townsfolk who keep their knowledge of mysterious evil deeds to themselves
• a final turn of the screw

What the novel lacks in originality and genuine frights, though, it more than makes up for in ambience. Hi
Carolyn (Book Chick City)
I first read 'The Woman in Black' back in 1990 - I loved it then and I still love it now. I re-read it especially for my 'All Hallows Eve' event and I'm so pleased I revisited this amazing book.

The eeriness of the story is combined with delicious descriptive prose. This is what I love about Hills' writing. She's able to describe the world surrounding her characters with such detail I could actually be there, smelling the morning dew, feeling the biting wind on my skin, sensing the fear that grip
I have known of this story for some time and I will admit I have wanted to read it even before the film (and now its sequel) but it wasnt until recently that I found the book (dont ask books seem to disappear in to the void that is my collection).

The book itself is incredibly atmospheric - which I think makes up a huge part of the appeal to me. The story itself is excellently told as you would expect from Susan Hill, the plot however if you have read much of gothic horror and ghost stories is p

Over the four-day Halloween/All Saints' Day/All Souls' Day long weekend, I took a respite from reading the classic novel, Gone With The Wind , to get spooked read something that's thematically apt for the holiday. I had been provided with a PDF copy of this book for a couple of months now (thanks to Kwesi), and I was particularly saving reading it for Halloween.

The Woman In Black: A Ghost Story is about a young Brit lawyer, Arthur Kipps, who was tasked to tie up the loose ends in the estate

You know those books, where you look at the book, then look at reviews, then back at the book and think, “Am I reading the right book?” The Woman in Black was one of those books for me. It seems like everyone loves it, my edition is even part of the Vintage Classics* range, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was a chore to get through. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it… or maybe it’s just not the right book for me.

The premise is enticing: a young solicitor goes to stay in an old mansion
I was perusing the Amazon bestseller list when I first stumbled on Susan Hill’s mystery The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story. Why the book, originally published in 1983, was on the list at all is likely the greatest mystery of all.

Lawyer Arthur Kipps is sorting through a deceased client’s paperwork at Eel House when he first encounters the titular woman in black. The house and the woman are shrouded in mystery, and the local villagers refuse to reveal their history to Kipps. Instead, to his detrime
Susan Hill's The Woman in Black is a homage to the traditional English ghost story - the stylish and atmospheric works of M.R. James, who delighted in telling them to his students and friends at Christmastime, and pretty much began the tradition of doing so. This is not a bad thing by any means, but has one significant drawback - a work must be original enough to stand on its own, and not merely be a case of careful but uninventive inspiration.

Sadly, The Woman in Black is a clearly the latter.
Mar 22, 2009 MG rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone seeking a good ghost story.
Recommended to MG by: a Goodreads friend.
This is perhaps my favorite ghost story of all time. I recently finished reading her story, “The Man In The Picture: A Ghost Story,” when I was directed to Ms. Hill once again by a friend helping me research the best constructed ghost stories. As a writer, this exactly what I desire to achieve. She is a master at building tension. The atmosphere she creates is not only something you observe, but you also feel it. This story in particular entails a tangible sense of isolation. The main character ...more
Karen Heart
I am honestly concerned that some are going to be misled by the descriptions floating around about this book and possibly miss out on enjoying a great, true to the classic style, ghost story.

I almost didn't pick this book up because I kept hearing that it is "The scariest ghost story of our time" and "Beware, it will keep you awake at night". It wasn't until I heard it was written in the style of the classic ghost story that I thought I would give it a shot.

Maybe, for some, it is truly a blood-c
Tammy Walton Grant
(shudders) Well, that gave me the chills, big time. A couple of really good skin-crawling, hair standing up on the back of my neck, heart-pounding moments. And the ending! Yowza. Damn, maybe I've ruined the movie for myself. Then again, maybe not.

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Look at that fog. And this:

Ok -- I really liked this book, although the first chapter was bit confusing in all the back and forths setting up the narrator's history. I thought the writing was good, the mood was set very well, and it was ju
The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a classic Gothic horror story set in the early 1900s. As a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps was sent to Crythin Gifford, a small fictional town on England's marshy, northeast coast. He has to settle the estate of a woman who lived in the isolated Eel Marsh House. The secluded old home is accessible only during low tide, and visible only when the fog breaks. The story builds psychologically into terror using atmospheric descriptions, isolation, a bog with areas o ...more
2.5 rounded up to 3 stars.

I was very disappointed with this book. It's much shorter than I thought it was going to be, for one. That's my fault for not checking to see how many pages it was.
I found the prose to be overly descriptive. I get it, the house is located in a marsh by the sea. I get it that there is fog. I get it that the only road to the house is underwater during high tide. Enough already, where is the woman?
Even when the woman shows up, the story continues to be boring.
I did not fi
Anthony Chavez
I keep hearing that this novella by Susan Hill is written like an homage to classic writers such as James, Bronte, and Dickens. Having said that I greatly enjoyed this one; however, many people who made that comparison did not really like this read, which makes me really want to read some of these classic writers now, and I will very soon, purchases have been made =)

=Mini Summary (spoilers)=
Arthur Kipps has a loving wife, a large family and a secret that's haunted him for years. He'd planned to
3.5 Stars
Apparently I'd had this book on my radar (AKA: Goodreads To-Read list) for a long time, but forgot all about it - until the movie starring Harry Potter Daniel Radcliff was being advertised all over the place. I then thought, "Oooooh creepy shiny!" and tried to add it, only to realize I had already done been added it.

And now that I've done been readed it (err, I'll stop with that now), I'm thinking that it excelled in some ways, but left me disappointed in others.

And I'm wondering whe
Nancy Oakes
like a 3.8 rounded up.

I am surprised at a number of reader reviews here, but I guess as with everything else, my life motto à chacun à son goût applies. I enjoyed this book -- I went into it with no expectations and wasn't disappointed. I actually liked it.

You can read the short version here, or click on over to my online reading journal for more.

I found The Woman in Black to be a fine ghostly tale in and of itself, but more than that, I found Arthur to be an excellent story teller. The firs
This is a ghost story in the very classic style. This isn't Stephen King style, more Edgar Allen Poe or a Victorian tale. The writing style adds to the story, pulling you back into a different time.
I liked the beginning which frames the story and sets the mood for the tale. A story so frightening that the teller, Arthur Kipps, cannot even share it with his family.
The story is very descriptive and atmospheric. You can feel the mist, the chill, see the views out across the marsh and the land.
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers

On a crisp Christmas eve, the elderly Arthur Kipps rests contentedly in front of a roaring fire, surrounded by his stepchildren and loving wife Esme. All is at peace with Arthur's world; all is as it should be. But when the young men start to tell ghost stories, Arthur's idyllic night is ruined. It is only now, after so many years, that Arthur puts his pen to paper and tells the story that haunts him - the story that keeps him up at night shaking with ter
May 01, 2013 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: London solicitors, people reading in a dark house alone at night
How do you tell a new ghost story?

Answer: you don't. Just like there isn't really a lot new to say about interstellar empires or elven warriors or hard-boiled detectives. So, The Woman in Black is a ghost story. It's a ghost story like all those other ghost stories you've heard. Of a less skilled writer, I'd have even said the author was practically doing a paint-by-numbers story.

But Susan Hill is really good. The key to a good ghost story is atmosphere. A little creepiness, a little prickling a
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 3 13 May 26, 2015 12:45AM  
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Woman In Black by Susan Hill 7 38 Jan 26, 2015 07:34PM  
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Thrillers & Chillers: Book or Movie? 6 11 Dec 27, 2014 04:42AM  
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Susan Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1942. Her hometown was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and some short stories especially "Cockles and Mussels".

She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factor
More about Susan Hill...
The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler, #1) The Pure in Heart (Simon Serrailler, #2) The Small Hand: A Ghost Story The Risk of Darkness (Simon Serrailler, #3) The Betrayal of Trust (Simon Serrailler, #6)

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“For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever.” 26 likes
“A man may be accused of cowardice for fleeing away from all manner of physical dangers but when things supernatural, insubstantial and inexplicable threaten not only his safety and well-being but his sanity, his innermost soul, then retreat is not a sign of weakness but the most prudent course.” 15 likes
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