Friday, 3 December 2010
The Woman in Black
At the time I began to read this book I was sitting in a small holiday cottage in the middle of nowhere, the hour was late, the Mrs had gone to bed. Outside the wind was howling, driving the pouring rain against the walls and windows of the cottage. Conditions could scarcely be more appropriate for reading a good ghostly yarn.
Perhaps the spooky atmosphere of the cottage contributed something to the feelings of fear I encountered whilst reading this book but I can say for certain that The Woman in Black is the most terrifying book I have ever picked up.
The story is straightforward enough; a young solicitor named Arthur Kipps is sent by his firm to a small community living in the English countryside. Here he attends the funeral of a reclusive client named Mrs Drablow. Kipps is also tasked with searching her home for any important documents that need to be retrieved. Upon his arrival Kipps quickly discovers that whenever the name Drablow or her former home is mentioned the townsfolk clam up and won’t discuss it with him. After he sees a mysterious woman at the funeral Kipps begins to suspect there is something odd going on. Mrs Drablow’s home is located deep in the marshes at the end of a causeway which is impassable most of the time because of the tide. Once Kipps arrives at the house he is forced to remain alone until the tide is low enough for him to leave. It is then that the ghostly happenings begin...
The book is very well written in general, the characters are few but well developed and the story moves at a brilliant pace, slowly building up the tension but not falling into the trap of spending too long setting the scene. The horror is mostly suggested and the ghost only makes a handful of appearances but that is more than enough. A combination of the terrible fog, the unseen force, the feeling of being trapped and bumps in the night all combine to move to reader to the edge of their seat. I can honestly say I was scared by what I read and I finished the book in one sitting.
I highly recommend reading it late at night, preferably by yourself during a rainstorm, it won't be an experience you'll soon forget!
Final verdict 5/5