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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like Ghostly Tales of Old
Susan Hill wrote one of my favourite `ghost stories' and in fact one of my favourite novels The Woman in Black a book that I recommend to anyone and everyone. So after quite a while since her last ghost story Mist in the Mirror now here is The Man in the Picture and I read it in one go, I simply devoured the whole thing. I did wait until it was dark and the curtains were...
Published on 30 Jan 2009 by Simon Savidge Reads

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Man in the Picture
An enjoyable novella, marred by occasionally clumsy prose. It reads a little too much like a first draft. The plot is good but there are awkward instances such as the revelation that Oliver has a girlfriend who he intends to marry. She is important to the plot but the fact that she is only mentioned as we get to the final chapters makes her feel tacked on. I also found...
Published on 6 Jan 2009 by Rich


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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like Ghostly Tales of Old, 30 Jan 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Susan Hill wrote one of my favourite `ghost stories' and in fact one of my favourite novels The Woman in Black a book that I recommend to anyone and everyone. So after quite a while since her last ghost story Mist in the Mirror now here is The Man in the Picture and I read it in one go, I simply devoured the whole thing. I did wait until it was dark and the curtains were drawn just to get the perfect atmosphere. You can't read a ghost story in daylight or on the tube, it doesn't work.

The tale is told on a winters night before the fire (a perfect time and place to read this book if you can) Theo a Cambridge don, is telling his former student Oliver the strange history of the picture that he has on his wall. What may appear to be a beautiful Venetian scene of partying and masks in the street has much deeper secrets and scares in its frame. Poor Oliver is unaware that having been told the tale it will change everything for him and soon the painting will be taking its effect on his own life. This painting is no ordinary painting for it has the power not only to imitate life but also to take it, forever. And the reason it does this? Well without giving anything away its revenge, simple bitter revenge. Revenge for what or whom you will have to read to find out.

Susan Hill is a superb writer who can turn her hand to anything; her crime novels are wonderful, it is however her ghost stories that I love the most. The way she sets the scene so simplistically and builds the tension so easily before you know it your spine is tingling and the hairs on your back and neck are rising. They have that gothic or Victorian feel to them that harks back to the classic era of ghost telling. Sadly I didn't have a fire as I would have given anything for the sound and warmth of wood crackling while I was turning the pages and getting the chills.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Man in the Picture, 6 Jan 2009
An enjoyable novella, marred by occasionally clumsy prose. It reads a little too much like a first draft. The plot is good but there are awkward instances such as the revelation that Oliver has a girlfriend who he intends to marry. She is important to the plot but the fact that she is only mentioned as we get to the final chapters makes her feel tacked on. I also found it difficult to work out when the book was set. It feels very old-fashioned which I have no problem with but the mention of a mobile phone near the end feels out of place. Not as good as her other ghost stories.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Chill - No thrill, 21 Oct 2007
This review is from: The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story (Hardcover)
I read this after listening to a review on Radio 5. The reviewers indicated the novella was heart-stoppingly chilling and a good old fashioned ghost story. I love a good ghost story; so much more chilling than the gore of today that occupies the horror genre.

The book is well written and would benefit from being read on a misty winter or autumn evening in front of a roaring fire, with the house to yourself, the phone turned off and the gurantee of no disturbances.
I read it in an hour, so it kept my attention, always a good sign.

It loses stars for me as it had zero chill factor; never once did I look over my shoulder; never once has it kept me awake, not once have I thought about the content of the novella since.

It should pull on everyones fears... the eyes in certain pictures that appear to follow you round the room, but it failed for me to connect. I came away from this thinking that Hill could write better, so today I have started reading the Women in Black to see if that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Worth a read, but really not spine tingling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrifically chilling mystery, 31 Dec 2008
The "Man in the Picture" is a novella that concerns a Cambridge student who visits his professor and old friend at the university. In the course of the meeting, the two discuss a painting of a Venetian ball the old man bought many years ago, the terrible secrets it keeps and the inevitable consequences for those who discover who is the man in the picture...

A clever ghost story, "The Man in the Picture" may be short, but Susan Hill, having already shown her expertise in the format with "The Woman in Black" and "The Mist in the Mirror," delivers a finely-tuned, masterfully constructed supernatural mystery. A sense of dread permeates every page and the unrelenting pace will leave you breathless right up until the horribly disquieting finale. Hill reaffirms her position as a peerless exponent of a neglected genre with this elegant masterpiece.

Excellent and highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elegant but not her best, 13 Jun 2008
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This review is from: The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story (Hardcover)
I am a great admirer of Susan Hill's work, and this short novella is as stylishly written as her other work; sadly, though, it doesn't fully measure up to her great chiller "The Woman in Black", or indeed its splendid companion "The Mist in the Mirror". This new story has many elements in common with the earlier works, but its creepy atmosphere isn't sustained so expertly. To be honest, "Man in the Picture" feels a little re-heated, notwithstanding the author's characteristically excellent writing.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've been more scared getting lost in lakeside, 10 Oct 2008
By 
Mrs. N. D. Trott "nmeade7" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story (Hardcover)
I was very disappointed with this book, it started off really well but just seemed to evaporate into nothing, the story was ok but nothing was really explained and it wasn't scary either! the story wasn't in anyway spine tingling, infact it feel flat on it's face, very disappointing and even more so for the fact that it's a very thin paperback (I read it in a day) and it cost me 6.99 !!! not worth it at all !!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars no woman in black, 5 Jun 2008
By 
L. Dorward "lozza" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story (Hardcover)
I have always seen Hill as a fantastic writer her prose are beautifully written, the ambience of her novels is fantastic. One of her fortais is ghost stories. I used woman in black for my GCSEs and it has made me become a real fan of her work. The man in the picture starts off well, and, she uses her wonderful skills in building up a great premise for the story, unfortunatly, the reverance of the woman in black appears to be overlooking this story a great deal and it does have tones of it embedded in this novel. I wont reveal the ending but it is simmilar to the woman in black. Not that its a bad thing as it is a great ghost story, but what could have been a great idea has not fully been taken with this project. I would say give it a go though as it is well written, the characters are well formed and if your a Hill fan you will enjoy it.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless pastichery..., 12 Mar 2008
By 
Chintan Nanavati "Chinhealer" (Staffs, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story (Hardcover)
*Sigh*. This book has really annoyed me. It is a very slight tale indeed and yet retails at a gargantuan 9.99! (Good job I borrowed it from the library instead!) This smacks of exploitation of Woman in Black's legions of fans. Not having read that esteemed tome yet, nor seen a stage version, I can't comment on whether The Man in the Picture is a dip in form or more of the same from Hill.
On the plus side, Hill shows she is quite competent in apeing the style and subject matter of M.R. James. And while I can begrudgingly accept that he was a pioneer of this type of fiction, I have to say I'm left quite cold by his stories. (Not in a spine-tingling way!) I much prefer Bram Stoker's novels or Dickens' ghost stories for olde-worlde chills.
So, yes, despite having some storytelling facility, Hill squanders it on a story with very little originality, stock characters and less fear factor than your average episode of Buffy or Scooby Doo! The lazy plotting, the Miss Havishamesque character of the nonogenarian Countess and the generous smattering of cliche throughout this story really aren't good enough. (Incidentally, Stephen King's latest Duma Key - which happens to revolve around the horror of art among other things - also has a Havishamesque character, but at least her backstory is well fleshed-out and genuinely disturbing.)
Supernatural fiction has evolved into a far more subtle and surprising and interesting and multi-layered beast these days compared to the Victorian exponents of the genre. Check out the novels of Phil Rickman or Stephen King (of course) or early Clive Barker or Koji Suzuki or even James Herbert to be truly frightened. And the almost 40-year-old Exorcist by William Peter Blatty is a far, far superior slice of literary horror than this trifling effort by Susan Hill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable, 15 Feb 2012
By 
Suspect I am now too old and scientifically inclined to like ghost stories as I don't believe in ghosts. Having said that I don't believe in elves, time travel etc and can enjoy stories about those.
This book started well but I didn't understand the ending and why people who had nothing to do with the original problem were getting involved in the ghost story bit. It just didn't make sense. Why them? Why then?
I'm only giving it 2 stars because it was quick and easy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hill at her Best, 15 April 2011
It's pretty hard to write a review of a Susan Hill ghost story without mentioning "The Woman in Black," so I'm not going to compare it against "The Man In The Picture" as I feel it stands up on its own.

The story follows a former Cambridge student Oliver as he visits his old tutor Theo. Only Theo is a changed man after discovering a rare and mysterious painting of a Venetian carnival. A painting whose tale is even more sinister than the surreal, disturbing figures populating the image. As the night draws to a close Oliver realises that there may be more to the old man's tale than his skeptial mind first thought...

If I'm honest I've read three ghost stories by Susan Hill now, and I've always found the basic premise to be a bit clichéd. A spooky old lady, a creepy childlike presence, a haunted picture. It's all stuff that Edgar Allen Poe and other horror writers have been doing for decades. But Susan Hill has a similar writing style of the old masters of Gothic Horror such as the aformentioned Poe, Shelley and Stoker. The scenes are beautifully described, the pace and hightened tension never really drop, and above all else "The Man in the Picture" genuinely sends a shiver down the spine. I personally prefer a "Dark, stormy night" over somebody being snuffed out every five minutes any day. Hill certainly gets the imagination going.

If I could find fault with TMITP, it's that most of the scary set-pieces (any time when the White Lady shows up) are repeated and there isn't much variation on the scares. In a longer book this would be inexcusable so it's a good job the page count is low. It also unfortunately makes the ending very predictable, something Hill is guilty of in other books. But due to the amazing storytelling, it's the getting there that counts.

In fact this would probably have gotten four stars had I not read this in an isolated lodge/B&B on a dark, foggy, windswept week in Cornwall. On one particular night after an extended reading I had the most horriffic nightmare; similar to what I'd been reading as I was nodding off. I don't spook easily so I must tip my hat to Susan Hill as I was visibly shaken the following day.

For anyone thinking of buying this book, I'd recommend reading it under similar conditions to get the most out of it. You'll be glad you did.
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The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story
The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill (Hardcover - 11 Oct 2007)
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