Thoughts on The Woman in Black By Susan Hill

When The Woman in Black movie with Daniel Radcliffe came out I went to see it in the cinema four times. Something about that specific story and the horror with in it really drew me in and I just adored it, so I have no idea how it’s taken me this long to read the book!

We all know that the book is usually better than the movie adaption but this is one of the cases where I don’t necessarily think that’s true. The movie isn’t better than the book by any means, but they tell the same story in such different ways that I find them difficult to compare.

For those that don’t know, the basic plot without spoilers is that the main character, Arthur, ends up going to a house that’s haunted by, of course, the woman in black. The book begins years after the events that happened in the house and is written as Arthur deciding that the haunting has followed him metaphorically for so many years he needs to just write it and get it out.

The writing style initially bored me when I began reading, but by a chapter or two in I was completely absorbed and had gotten used to it, I think it’s perhaps just that I don’t read a lot of horror nor many older books. The writing style and the fact that it’s being written ‘by’ Arthur makes some parts of the book so terrifying I almost had to put it down. The emotional descriptions are so well done there were parts I almost felt what Arthur was feeling and even with knowing more or less what would happen because of the movie, parts really scared me!

It’s a slow burning horror story with many breaks and gaps that allow you to calm down while still knowing that something even worse is likely to come. There’s a huge amount of tension and I think the main thing that the book did better than the movie was sort of lay out all the puzzle pieces for you to put together yourself. I felt that the movie, as much as I loved it, sort of spoon fed any revelations regarding the woman in black to the audience in a way that the book initially didn’t, though it was of course eventually all explained by the main character for anyone who may not have caught it all.

Overall I think this is a brilliant read for this time of year. It’s genuinely scary, it’s thought provoking, the few characters it has are all interesting and well written, there’s a cute dog and Arthur is a likeable character that you really feel for as you read his experiences. If you’re looking for a spooky read, this is one to try! I really don’t think it’ll let you down.

-Dana

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