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The Small Hand: A Ghost Story [Hardcover]

Susan Hill
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

2 Sep 2010
Returning home from a visit to a client late one summer's evening, antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow takes a wrong turning and stumbles across the derelict old White House. Compelled by curiosity, he approaches the door, and, standing before the entrance feels the unmistakable sensation of a small hand creeping into his own, 'as if a child had taken hold of it'. Intrigued by the encounter, he determines to learn more, and discovers that the owner's grandson had drowned tragically many years before. At first unperturbed by the odd experience, Snow begins to be plagued by haunting dreams, panic attacks, and more frequent visits from the small hand which become increasingly threatening and sinister ...

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The Small Hand: A Ghost Story + Dolly: A Ghost Story + The Mist In The Mirror
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 167 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; 1st edition (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846682363
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846682360
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 2.1 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Hill is a prize-winning novelist, having been awarded the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham and John Llewelyn Rhys awards, as well as having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She wrote Mrs de Winter, the bestselling sequel to Rebecca, and the ghost story The Woman in Black, which was adapted for the stage and became a great success in the West End. Her books include a collection of exquisite short stories, The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read, and the highly successful crime novel series about the detective Simon Serrailler. Susan Hill lives in Gloucestershire, where she runs her own small publishing firm, Long Barn Books.

Product Description


`A superbly chilling ghost story - a metier that Hill has made her own' Bookseller --Bookseller

`Superior chills from the author of The Woman in Black' -- Woman & Home

`A distinguished modern exponent of the genre... This beautifully written novel may be short, but not one word is wasted' --Spectator

`On chilling form' -- Vogue

`If the proof of a good ghost story is a bad dream, this one worked for me' --Intelligent life

`On top form' --Good Housekeeping

`This is a wonderful piece of storytelling that does what a good story ought to do: pulls you in' --Jeremy Dyson, Guardian

`Seductive as it is disquieting, atmospheric and brilliantly suspenseful' --The Lady

`Short and crisply told ... The tension is built up gradually until it is taut and physical' --Independent

`Precise and stylish' Big Issue -- Big Issue

`Classic' -- Mail on Sunday

`As seductive as it is disquieting, atmospheric and brilliantly suspenseful' -- The Lady

`It's hugely enjoyable and a perfect read for a couple of hours by the fireside on a dark winter's evening' -- Daily Mail

`Short and crisply told ... The tension is built up gradually until it is taut and physical' -- Independent

`Masterfully done ... subtle, elegant' -- The Times

`A beautiful volume housing a chilling take on the good old-fashioned ghost story' -- Red

`Most definitely suited to reading beside a roaring fire while fingering the thick cream pages of this well-produced hardback' -- Observer

'An elegant entertainment for a winter's night' --Financial Times

Book Description

The chilling tale of a man in the grip of a small, invisible hand ... A superlative ghost story by the author of The Woman in Black and The Man in the Picture, to be read by the fire on a cold winter's night.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy ghost story 5 April 2011
By Michael Finn TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Susan Hill's new ghost story is a subtle and insidious melancholy tale about a book collector who on discovering a lonely house feels a ghostly small hand slip into his own. From a strangely subdued beginning Hill weaves a clever story that hides deeper fears and anxieties behind the trappings of the ghost story. Fear of insanity, incipient madness waiting on the edges of our perceptions like a dark spider, can be far more terrifying than fear of the supernatural. What Hill does here is to blur the lines between the two, and even though this book won't have you nervously inspecting the darkest corners of the room, or even make you shiver with disquiet, it is a finely drawn story that subtly engenders introspection. The gaps in our knowledge of the working's of the mind and the question of the unexplained, the supernatural are all topics that can be examined but never fully brought completely into the light of human understanding. Hill impresses again by challenging the reader on many different levels rather than simply trotting out a string of strange happenings to raise a chill thrill.
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154 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Wonderful Ghostly Tale From Susan Hill 5 Sep 2010
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
Adam Snow, an antiquarian book dealer, narrates the tales of his dealings in `The Small Hand' after one night journeying back from a client he decides to take the back quieter routes `through the Downs' on his commute back to London only to discover himself completely lost. Eventually he happens upon a drive way and a sign saying `garden closed' and knowing there must be some kind of large house he decides this would be the best place to find directions. The house he discovers however is in a mild state of dereliction yet it seems he is not alone for as he turns back to the car a small hand takes hold of his only no one is with him.

After his first bemusement to what takes place and dismissal as his imagination due to the atmosphere things start to take a turn for the more sinister when Adam starts to become gripped by fear for no apparent reason. Initially thinking this must be some kind of series of panic attacks he becomes more concerned when on a trip abroad he starts to see things and a presence seems to be dragging him closer and closer to danger when ever it can find opportunity. I shall leave it there because if I give any more away I would say too much and part of the joy of this book, and the chilling factors too, is the fact that things happen when you aren't expecting them too and there is an interesting back story and good few twists that all add to the experience it wouldn't do to ruin.

You might have guessed but I did really enjoy this book. I curled up with it on a Saturday evening when it had gone dark and I had the house all to myself. I can report that it had the desired effect too as the random house noises I don't normally notice started to make me jump.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointed 14 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this story on my new Kindle, which I think may have detracted slightly as other reviewers have mentioned the quality of the cover and presentation of the book. I can't comment on those, but as a reading experience, I was a little underwhelmed by The Small Hand.

The premise is excellent and follows in the established tradition of ghost stories. An antiquarian book dealer becomes lost one night and ends up in the 'closed' garden of a house that used to be a tourist attraction. This is where he has his first encounter with 'the small hand' and it's genuinely thrilling and very creepy.

Very soon after this though, the story becomes less traditional and more stereotypical. I guessed almost immediately why the narrator was being haunted and was hoping I'd guessed wrong, but I hadn't.

The writing is wonderful, sparse and precise. Ms Hill doesn't use a dozen words where one will do and I really admire her for this. I just feel the story, on this occasion, is a little too thin. It would have made a good short story, but stretching it out to novel-length feels wrong.

It's a beautifully written book, and you won't want to put it down.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Just as the Summer fizzles out and the nights draw in, here is a chilling little ghost story for the gloomy Autumn evenings. After stumbling at random (or is it?) across a ruined country house surrounded by a garden gone wild, antiquarian book dealer Adam Snow starts to be haunted by "the small hand", which takes his and... well that would be telling, but Snow is followed, haunted and frightened.

From its chilling start to the horrific twist on the last page, this is a satisfying and timeless ghost story. Though set in the present - there are a couple of mentions of emails and easy foreign travel - it could as well have been set in 1910 or even 1810. I suppose it's the doom of any writer of ghost stories to be compared to MR James, but this survives the challenge: the book plays with the Jamesian conventions more than for example The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story (no distancing effect or story within a story) but ratchets up the atmosphere of menace nicely as Hill brings real fear into the lovingly established and comfortable life of her protagonist, about whom just enough is left mysterious (when did he see his father dead?). She really is good at these.

This would be an excellent book to buy yourself as a treat, perhaps to read as the owls hoot outside, or to give as a Christmas present. A bonus is the beautiful design, complete with embossed dust jacket - match that with an e-reader!

One question: why does it just feel fitting that a dealer in rare books be haunted? I don't know, but it does...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Story
This is the best Susan Hill ghost story I have read. I was confused, at first, about the time period in which the story was set but it did become clear eventually. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Stellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy
A short book, just as good as The Woman In Black but sadly less well known. Very creepy and atmospheric.
Published 1 month ago by Buddly
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly engaging but rather lightweight
It's got some mood going on for sure, but it's a book that passes the time rather than truly engages. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JJ Glebe
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
Quite an unusual ghost story. Worth a read. Very different to ghost stories I've read in the past and not as 'silly'.
Published 5 months ago by Richard Stephenson
4.0 out of 5 stars The Small Hand
"The Small Hand" is another enjoyable novella from Susan Hill. Tense and creepy, as one comes to expect from Hill, it is well worth a read.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Can this really be Susan Hill?
Can this really be the Susan Hill who wrote Woman in Black? This is a lousy book, badly written with a very holey plot. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sea Holly
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit boring
Not the most interesting ghost story, did not grab me,a bit predictable really, certainly not gripping do not recommend for people who want a scary night
Published 5 months ago by flo
3.0 out of 5 stars different
I found this book very different to other books I have read,the story was endurable but a lot of unnecessary words,
Published 5 months ago by avid reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it.
Well written and plausible ghost story. Never sensational, handled well. Quite spooky. Worth reading if you enjoy none gruesome ghostly reads.
Published 5 months ago by moxxy-girl
3.0 out of 5 stars More short story than novel.
Interesting enough, but not enough substance. It would make a good short story. I should like to read more from this author.
Published 5 months ago by MR I BELL
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