Emily May's Reviews > The Woman In Black

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill
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really liked it
bookshelves: classics, horror

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 element. For me to find this book, a book that is entirely a horror story, to be so enjoyable and so frightening is quite incredible.

I don't need to tell you what it's about, you can read that in countless descriptions, but I do need to say just how much this scared me and had me sleeping with the light on all night and jumping up at every single creak and sigh. The image of the woman stood in the marshes with her face wasting away is so vividly described that it was all I could picture for days, I kept looking over my shoulder when I was by myself expecting to see her stood there in her long black cloak. This lady does very little and is still probably the most frightening character I've ever come across in a novel. I would not recommend you read this while alone in the house... especially if it can scare someone so immune to horror like me.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 9, 2010 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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Karen It's been a week since I finished this book, and I'm STILL looking over my shoulder! I do NOT want to see her... anywhere!


Taxandria My parents let me watch Chiller etc when I was a kid and I still get the heebie jeebies thinking about some of what I saw. I don't think "censorship" is a bad thing with young kids. It's also called being discerning because not all young minds can handle that stuff. I am sure I was a very cosmopolitan 6 yr old NYC-er but how jaded can a child be?


message 3: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason lovely. and it's such a short book. im glad the scare factor went up for this one, because i am the same way! anyone else read anything else by her and how did it fair against this one?


Devlin Scott I read this for the first time during a massive, midnight, wind storm...it was perfect!


Emily May Woah. I suddenly feel sad that we don't have many of those in Britain :)


Devlin Scott It was brilliant! It was a pitch black night and I live in an area filled with tall oak trees, the kind with squeaky limbs in windy situations. I believe the weather center clocked the wind speed that night at about 45 mph (72 kph). It was the perfect time to read Susan Hill.

Have you read any of her other stories yet?


Emily May No, I haven't. Have you?


Devlin Scott Not yet. The Man in the Picture The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill sounds very good. Maybe I will try it soon.


Emily May Let me know what you think if you do!


Devlin Scott I will! :)


message 11: by Brenda (new)

Brenda A I tried to read this last year and couldn't get past the writing style. I don't mind long-winded sentences but hers were literally like two paragraphs worth....


message 12: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Are all her books in that style?


message 13: by Yousif (new) - added it

Yousif Hi Emily :)

From what you've written here, it sounds like we have something in common: immunity to horror. I am actually LOOKING for novels that can scare me, and you made me want to check this one out. Can you please recommend any other novels that scared you (if there are any)?

Thanks :)


message 14: by Jam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jam Sinclair I am exactly the same when it comes to horror, been obsessed since I can remember, thus immune. I totally agree with everything you said about this novel too, it was one of the first to really scare me. I read it alone at night sitting in my conservatory surrounded by woods. Not the best idea.. lol. Will definitely be reading more Hill :)


Vicki G Try working on the ambulance for a month; after seeing everything you see in just one month of working in a large city, you'll almost never scare again. Unless a doctor writes the book.


message 16: by Ravenswan (new) - added it

Ravenswan My attitude to horror is identical to yours! It will be interesting to see if my views on the book will be similar to, lol


message 17: by Blank Reads (new) - added it

Blank Reads In England it is a required read in year 9.


message 18: by Pam (new) - added it

Pam Carmichael Wow if it scared you it will scare me too, I am the same as you, it takes a lot to really scare me. Thanks for the great review!


message 19: by Lady Willpower (new)

Lady Willpower Thanks, Emily! My parents were strict with horror movies when I was a kid, so I'm a wimp when it comes to scary stories. Sadly, I think I'm gonna give this one a pass.


message 20: by Sophy (new) - added it

Sophy H Emily May, I went to see the stage play of this and the lights go off in the performance; when they come back on the woman playing "the woman in black" has come around the back of the audience and is almost floating down the central theatre aisle in silence!! I shat myself and screamed!!! So did other people in the audience (my mates were laughing at me!!!) Scary stuff!


Emily May Sophy wrote: "Emily May, I went to see the stage play of this and the lights go off in the performance; when they come back on the woman playing "the woman in black" has come around the back of the audience and ..."

Oh my god! That's amazing, though O.O


April I agree with Sophy, such a creepy stage show. I saw it while staying in London a few years back. The version I saw had 3 actors total, and very minimal stage dressing. So deeply eerie. Even though I was on the balcony and the woman only ever walked out into the orchestra area once, I was so creeped out I had to keep looking over my shoulder for her whenever she wasn't on stage. I strongly recommend going to see if if you ever have the chance!


Nathaniel Winston It's interesting that you should say that you are used to horror yet found this effecting.

I'm not trying to be snooty but as someone who watches too much horror to even particularly like horror short of immaculate anymore, I found this book somewhat...well, exactly what I don't want horror to be.


Emily May Nathaniel wrote: "It's interesting that you should say that you are used to horror yet found this effecting.

I'm not trying to be snooty but as someone who watches too much horror to even particularly like horror s..."


It's not snooty, it's a difference of opinion and it just makes conversations more interesting :) Sorry this one didn't work for you. I won't defend the book because I read it more than 10 years ago (who knows what I'd think now?), but I do remember finding it eerie. What do you think is a better example of good horror?


message 25: by Sophy (new) - added it

Sophy H April, that's so cool that you saw the stage show too. A real spooky treat, I would well recommend to anyone.


Nathaniel Winston Emily May wrote: "Nathaniel wrote: "It's interesting that you should say that you are used to horror yet found this effecting.

I'm not trying to be snooty but as someone who watches too much horror to even particul..."


I just wanted to hedge my bets :) I don't try to be snooty in any case.

I don't think I've ever read good horror literature. I'm sort of new to it.

I sort of liked Horowitz Horror when I was a kid. They're hit or miss but some of the stories in there are very affecting.


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