Amy's Reviews > The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
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's review
Aug 28, 2012

it was ok
Read in August, 2012

Wow, I have a hard time understanding how such a weak ghost story could inspire a hit play and movie.

The story is really hard to get into. I had to be stubborn to stick it through to the good part. I understand what the author is doing, I've read lots of old fashioned ghost stories that start out as a reminisce by the narrator. There was just so much detail about the narrator's situation before I got to the circumstances that pushed him to remember his ghost experience, I would have been really lost to know what the books was about if I picked up the book without reading the back. It was really confusing.

Then there were other problems. If you read the description, the ghost experience takes place in an isolated house. The coming and going of the tides is crucial to the story about when characters can and cannot get to and from the house. Unfortunately, the author was inconsistent on what times of day the characters could get to the house. She just seemed to assign a time based on what was convenient for what she wanted to happen next in the story and how many hours or what time of day she wanted the character to be there. One day the narrator had to leave at 1pm to get to the house before the tide made it impassable, then the next day he had to leave at 9:30 am in order to beat the tide. It was really confusing and made it hard for me to stay in the story.

The actual haunting portion of the story was fairly taut, so I could see why others might be a fan of the book for that, but there were a lot of threads the author started and didn't come back to. There were a couple of pieces of information that the narrator was wondering about in one part of the story and then all of a sudden he just knows it, without keeping the reader in the loop. Really, I went back and re-read a section to make sure I hadn't missed a revelation.

I can tell that the author was trying to mirror the style of old fashioned ghost stories. I've read a number of them, and this one fell short on too many counts.

I haven't seen the movie, but from what I've read there were a lot of things added that made the story more scary and sinister and possibly bordering on the horror genre rather than just a ghost story.
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