The Woman in Black

By Susan Hill,

Book cover of The Woman in Black

Book description

The classic ghost story from the author of The Mist in the Mirror: a chilling tale about a menacing spectre haunting a small English town.
Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford—a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway—to attend…

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Why read it?

9 authors picked The Woman in Black as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Eel Marsh House. The name itself sets you up for something dark, sinister, cold, lonely, and hide-under-the-bedcovers scary.

The way Susan Hill handles her brand of horror has always fascinated and grabbed me. She sets her Gothic and ghostly stories – which are mostly novella length – in an indeterminate timeline which has been called ‘Hill-time’ and this all adds to the mystery and ethereal darkness.

The Woman in Black is her most famous (writing in this genre) and has all the ingredients you want. An isolated house with such a macabre back story it’s no wonder it is so…

From Catherine's list on transporting you to a haunted house.

Hill’s minimalist style, ability to evoke despair, and superb descriptions, combined with the most vivid of imaginations, make her a compelling writer of ghost stories. In The Woman in Black, she paints the superbly gothic Eel Marsh House, and its bleak surroundings with a deft touch that transports the reader into the narrative. You don’t read a Susan Hill book to come out feeling better afterward, but… if you like to be left with a feeling of disquiet, even though you know it’s only a story you just read, The Woman in Black is definitely for you.

I saw the tv adaptation with my mum and dad on Christmas Eve 1989 and it scared the socks off us all. My love of the story is tied into family time and the love of books and movies I shared with my Dad. The movie adaptations and stage play have set this book as a modern classic but Hill has a way of writing that is truly unnerving. A young lawyer dealing with probate for a recently deceased client leads to creeping sense of dread, an old house, and a very angry ghost. Again there is a back story…

From Anne-Marie's list on scaring the bejesus out of you.

This, in my opinion, is the scariest ghost story I’ve read. On the surface it seems like a normal ghost story, but there’s also a tale of revenge and family double cross. It’s a mystery wrapped in a frightening story. Arthur Kipps has to settle the estate of a recently deceased woman in the countryside. His life is quickly changed when he arrives at the estate and nothing will be the same for him ever again. While it is scary, the character work on Arthur and his discoveries eclipse the horror. It’s how well-written he is that makes the reader…

The British Isles seem to lend themselves to a peculiar brand of horror, not least because of the often dark weather and a blood-soaked history. The Woman in Black is short, beautifully narrated, and utterly chilling. This rates as my all-time favourite, possibly due to its subtlety and creeping suspense, but ultimately the absolutely horrific impact of the ending. Set in the wild fens of eastern England, a young solicitor must wrap up the affairs of a deceased woman who lived in a solitary house, accessible only when the tide has ebbed sufficiently to leave a mud flat. Not of…

The Woman in Black was the first Susan Hill novel that I had the chance to read and I wasn’t disappointed. A gothic horror novel that drew me in, the slow-burn story bringing chills with every page that I turned. As I followed the main character in his quest, I couldn’t stop turning the pages as the tension and atmosphere drew me in, ramping up the horror and leaving the hairs on the back of my neck standing on edge.

I’ve learned that the best ghost stories include a few basic elements. A remote and spooky location, a secret and often tragic event linking the present to the past. This particular story goes a bit deeper on the gothic scale as the mansion is surrounded at night by dark water, becoming an island as the ocean rises. Did I mention a village with freakish accidents involving many of the children? There are some points in this story that you have to set it down and take a deep breath, as the author understands our fears of the dark and also…

From Bibiana's list on haunted houses and ghosts.

Although the style of writing could be described as somewhat quaint, I like the descriptive passages. I like to be absorbed into the physical environment, the weather, the atmosphere. It adds great depth to what is, ultimately, another traditional ghost story. 

Arthur Kipps, the main character, looks back on his life, drawing us in with him as he relives the terrifying experience he had as a young man. The fear remains with him so deeply that he is unable to enjoy a Christmas Eve sharing ghost stories with his family. 

All the characters he meets in Crythin Gifford know what…

From S.P.'s list on creepy British ghost stories.

I’m picking this because it’s the first Susan Hill novel I read and it truly terrified me. The Woman in Black tells of solicitor Arthur Kipps who is sent to deal with the estate of Alice Drablow, deceased inhabitant of the wonderfully named Eel Marsh House. During Kipp’s stay, he encounters ‘the woman in black,’ a malevolent presence who haunts the house and surrounding marshland. Arthur is a sceptic, desperately trying to find explanations for the terrifying events he undergoes. The reader experiences Arthur’s building sense of unease and eventual unravelling as he begins to question everything he believes. I…

From Katherine's list on historical ghost stories.

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