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The Woman in Black

(The Woman in Black #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  60,050 ratings  ·  6,878 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 October 10th 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 Sum…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)
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 o…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)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  60,050 ratings  ·  6,878 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 o
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
Emily May
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, classics
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
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, horror, kb
Arthur Kipps (an up-and-coming solicitor) is sent by his employer to Crythin Gifford (a remote village) to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client (the late Mrs. Alice Drablow) of Eel Marsh House. When he gets there he is haunted by the ghost of a woman in black...

This was a very eerie, spooky read. I had a hard time putting this book down, I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. The book had a terrific gothic atmosphere, especially the creepy, very isolated Eel Marsh H
May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Finally got round to reading this Susan Hill classic and thoroughly enjoyed it!
Oct 04, 2011 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
Nandakishore Mridula
You know, what I love about British ghost stories are that they are so understated, like everything else in the country. They don't come bellowing and and dripping gory entrails - they creep upon you, and whisper "boo" almost apologetically in your ear. I think M. R. James started this trend, and all others seem to be following it.

Susan Hill starts her novel, "The Woman in Black", showing Arthur Kipps, an elderly lawyer and the first person narrator, having a quiet Christmas Eve with his family.
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! ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
4.5 Stars

In the grayness of the fading light, it had the sheen and pallor not of flesh so much as of bone itself. Earlier, when I had looked at her, although admittedly it had been scarcely more than a swift glance each time, I had not noticed any particular expression on her ravaged face, but then I had, after all, been entirely taken with the look of extreme illness. Now, however, as I stared at her, stared until my eyes ached in their sockets, stared in surprise and bewilderment at her pr
Brett C
Sep 18, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror

I enjoyed this simple yet effective Victorian-era ghost story. I liked the gothic elements: the imagery and descriptive setting the author used to set the stage for a cold autumn, dreary, and moonlit English countryside. It started out with a family telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. It then went to the to Arthur Kipps, our narrator, to tell the final tale to his stepchildren and wife. His tale was based on his personal account that he encountered many years before.

Mr. Kipps was a lawyer s
Horace Derwent
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
there's never final tears, sadness can last forever, some people we just can never bury even when we're dead

the whole hole in our chest will still remain, when the ocean pours in, it still leaks...

reminiscing can kill, love loves blood

irene, when i remembered you in the mid of some night, i coughed like a dud grenade exploding, i just felt the hole in my chest that wud never be filled. it was not like emptiness which cud be somehow filled, no, it's not like an abyss, it's a barath
Bren fall in love with the sea.
"Indeed, all the horrors and apparitions of my first visit to the house and the marshes had quite evaporated, along with the mists that had for that short time engulfed me".

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

How eager I was to start this book. As some of you are aware, I'd been seeking an eerie and beguiling book to read. Something that would scare without gore. This was recommended by two people and looked, at first glance to be my type of book.

And I disliked it. Deeply. Sorry but..I wasn't scare
A quickly read, old-fashioned ghost story that I enjoyed but that also left me wanting...

The setting is a little hard to place, because phones and cars are mentionned, but people travel mostly by train, smoke pipes and live in country estates... Between the two World Wars, perhaps? In this not-quite-modern time, Arthur Kipp, a young sollicitor, is sent to a small country village to represent his firm, who are the estate executor of a Mrs. Drablow, who just passed away. Mr. Kipp attends the funer
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2016 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
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the way this was written and read it quite quickly. It wasn't as scary as I had anticipated - having seen the film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe (which I enjoyed) I suppose I couldn't help but compare the two. I actually think I preferred the film just a bit more, but the book was strong. I loved the dog, Spider a lot. She really added something to the story.
The ending was great, though I won't be specific as to why. It hit me quite hard, even though it came with a strong sense
This hardcover book is copy 40 of 300 (Plus 20 copies for contributors) printed and signed by:

Susan Hill
Reggie Oliver - (interior art)
Simon Prades - (cover art)

Charlotte Kersten
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've seen the movie a few years ago and quite liked it so of course I had to read the novel it was based on. This is a classic gothic novel (though much younger than the original ones).

We start with a now settled lawyer named Arthur Kipps who lives at a nice house with his (second) wife and four stepchildren. One Christmas, they ask him to tell a ghost story. He's quite shaken by their request, shuts himself away and writes down what happened to him many years ago in the hope that this will fina
Dona Loves Books
It's a little difficult to describe how brilliant this book is. Hill utilizes techniques that in lesser hands would have caused the story to fail. The Woman in Black starts out, for example, hundreds of miles from where the action takes place, and decades after. With more than a suggestion -- a threat -- of a terrifying story to come if they linger too long, Hill lures the reader into the story.

This prolonged first act can be a risky choice, I'm sure, if it were not rendered as brilliantly as wh
Emily Coffee and Commentary
A solid example of the gothic ghost story; dreary, atmospheric, and dark, this novel explores the themes of grief and revenge beyond the grave. The woman in black is an interesting tragic villain, and our narrator is a compelling and emotional voice as he uncovers secrets with devastating consequences. A classic horror tale to read with the lights out.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-shelf, horror
In an age (the 80's) when horror was at its peak and ravening monsters of supernatural and human types ravaged the bookstores, Susan Hill decided to write a Victorian ghost story using modern sensibilities but the distinctive flair of the classics.

Since then, it's enjoyed modest popularity and I don't doubt why. It's simple and direct. It tugs at the heartstrings, from sympathy and shared horror to the mystery and even the heartwarming companionship of a plucky dog on the moor during the darkest
Misty Marie Harms
Arthur Kipps is sent to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The house sits in the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Tragic secrets lurk in the dusty remains of the old house. The eerie sounds of a horse and buggy can be heard across the marshes, along with the sound of a child crying. A child's nursery lays behind a locked door, as if it is waiting for its owner to return. If you listen closely, you can hear the ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I purchased my copy of The Woman in Black at the gift shop whilst seeing the play in the West End.
It’s was one of them stories that I really should have read by now.

I really liked the structure of the story as the main protagonist Arthur Kipps recounts he’s experience of ghosts whilst working as a junior solicitor.

The secluded house is effective and creepy whilst the reason of the haunting is incredibly chilling.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, horror, 1980s
Christmas was once known as a time for ghost stories (and in some places, still is). As we start this one, a family is sitting around the fire trying to one up each other, all save Arthur Kipps who wants nothing to do with ghost stories. We will find that he has a pretty good reason not to enjoy them.

As a young man Kipps was sent on an assignment to attend the funeral of a client and then go through all her papers. Her house is old and filled with paperwork seemingly in every drawer and cabinet

I make a habit of not watching the based on movie before reading the propagating book, so the 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 cine
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a major atmospheric horror/ghost story. Don’t skip over any of the parts.

When I was reading this, the 1980’s filmed version was playing back in my head. Especially that one scene.

Don’t rush through this one. It needs to be savoured.
kwesi 章英狮
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, owned, 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
Kevin Ansbro
I read this a while back: it's a grim, good old-fashioned horror story.

For a much more informative review, please may I redirect you to @Cecily's superb appraisal of this book?
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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

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Articles featuring this book

For as long as people have been telling stories, we’ve spun tales of the monsters and nightmares that lurk in the shadows of our imaginations....
203 likes · 61 comments
“For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever.” 52 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.” 26 likes
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