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The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story (Ghost Stories)

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  30,558 Ratings  ·  3,875 Reviews
Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again; he also ...more
Paperback, Movie Tie-in Edition, 164 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Vintage (first published 1983)
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Stella The only book that frightened me more was The Winter People, but it frightened me in a completely different way. That is more horror/ghost, while this…moreThe only book that frightened me more was The Winter People, but it frightened me in a completely different way. That is more horror/ghost, while this is pure ghost story. And a lot happens in The Winter People that is truly disturbing, whereas The Woman In Black has a very quiet intensity -- the level of fear it makes you feel is not equal to the level of haunting that is occurring in the book. For that reason, it has no rival in my opinion. (less)
Jingizu Yes, the movie is based on the book although the ending is slightly different.

@ Lewis Szymanski - no, the 2012 movie is NOT a reboot of the TV movie…more
Yes, the movie is based on the book although the ending is slightly different.

@ Lewis Szymanski - no, the 2012 movie is NOT a reboot of the TV movie of 1989. It is new adaptation of the novel. And frankly, I thought the 2012 movie a lot better than the 1989 one.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 13, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
“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.”

 photo woman in black_zps9wfl3zjg.jpeg

The young solicitor sent to Crythin Gifford to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased Mrs. Alice Drablow is a man by the name of Arthur Kipps.The people of Crythin Gifford are like the people of m
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Cecily
Nov 02, 2016 Cecily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

NARRATOR
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
...more
Jemidar
Nov 29, 2011 Jemidar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghosts-horror, culled

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
...more
Poonam
Aug 07, 2016 Poonam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
2.5 stars

The story starts with our main protagonist- Arthur Kipps narrating his paranormal experience to his close family and friends.
The start of the book reminded me of The Turn of the Screw as this also starts with a similar narration pattern and both these stories revolve around an isolated house.
But that is where the similarity ends.

The setting of 'Eel Marsh House' is spooky, it is foggy surrounded by marshes and the accessibility to the house is blocked during high tide....


Arthur see's Th
...more
Aubrey
3.5/5

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
...more
Kwesi 章英狮
Sep 23, 2011 Kwesi 章英狮 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2011, susan-hill
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
...more
Carol
Apr 19, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it
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!
Anna
Feb 05, 2012 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sara Steger
Jun 19, 2016 Sara Steger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A bit of a fun ghost story, complete with a house right out of Poe. "I looked up ahead and saw, as if rising out of the water itself, a tall, gaunt house of gray stone with a slate roof, that now gleamed steelily in the light."

Our narrator first confronts the woman in black in a graveyard. How appropriate is that? The story is Gothic in flavor, reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw, and crammed with cliches that work perfectly. I was surprised by the ending, which doesn't happen all that often. I
...more
Bonnie
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.

Storyline

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
...more
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 ...more
Andrew
Jan 31, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Moraes the Bookworm
Jun 14, 2016 Moraes the Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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 ...more
Carolyn  Storer
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
...more
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
...more
Monique

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
...more
Leanna
Feb 12, 2008 Leanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Nancy Oakes
Oct 03, 2014 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghostly-tales
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
...more
Maciek
Dec 28, 2013 Maciek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, gothic, reviewed
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.
...more
kari
Nov 11, 2010 kari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
The
...more
MG
Mar 22, 2009 MG rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 15, 2013 Karen Heart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
...more
Connie
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
Char
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
...more
Bill
Well, this one was a little tedious for me. Maybe I wasn't in the mood. I'm not sure how it could read fast and slow at the same time, but it did. I think it could have used a little more to it. Not horrible, but just a little better than ok. 2+ Stars.
RitaSkeeter
I'm the biggest scaredy-cat alive. Look up scaredy-cat in the dictionary and there's my pale, frightened looking face. So it beats me as to why my parents let me watch the original movie as a kid. It must have scared me, I still remember it. It also beats me as to why I then decided to pick up and read the novel.

I went into the novel expecting to have my socks scared off. I kept waiting. And waiting. And waiting. But it didn't happen. Why? Beats me. Could be because I read it in daylight (due to
...more
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.

[image error]

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
...more
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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
More about Susan Hill...

Other Books in the Series

Ghost Stories (7 books)
  • The Mist in the Mirror
  • The Man in the Picture
  • The Small Hand: A Ghost Story
  • Dolly
  • Printer's Devil Court
  • The Travelling Bag

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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.” 33 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.” 20 likes
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