The Woman in Black by Susan Hill - October '21 Review
What better way to start spooky season than with one of the creepiest horror novels of all time? You may have heard of the Woman In Black's adaptations of the same name, either on film or in the theatre (London's second-longest running show ever!), but if you want a true feel for the eerie tale a return to the original novel is a must. Why humans love horror so much is an interesting question - but the experience of reading or watching about our worst nightmares from the comfort of our own home can increase feelings of excitement and then relief - proving that horrors can actually be quite good for us.
Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House. The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but it is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose.
We're giving this book 4/5. A true, old fashioned ghost story that relies on the reader's ability to summon the atmosphere described in the book, Susan Hill captures - subtly - all the things that scare us most. Subverting elements that usually bring comfort, Hill uses the uncanny (think: rocking chair that rocks all on its own. Spooky.) to disturb readers with every turn of the page. Grab a blanket, a hot drink, and make sure a couple of lights are turned on as you settle in to be creeped out this October.
If horror isn't your thing when it comes to books, give the theatre production a go - it's well worth your time. And if you don't like the thought being scared from a safe space, check out some of our other book club recommendations instead right here.