Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Simple and traditional ghost story missing out on the 'scary' and dark.
on 2 January 2012
The Small Hand is a completely traditional tale of the supernatural and riddled with cliche. If you read a lot of fiction in this genre then I expect you will be disappointed. I know I was.
There are vague themes of haunting and possession set around what appears to be a haunted house. The main character, Adam Snow, is a seeker of valuable, rare books who believes himself haunted by the ghost of a young child he first encounters while lost and alone in a dilapidated house.
There are a couple of nicely worked twists which see Snow losing his grip on reality as he appears to become possessed by the 'spirit' and obsessed by the house. What are the links between the house, the man and the ghost of a child? Well; I'm sorry to say that you'll probably have guessed them well before the end, I know I did, which made reading the rest of the book redundant because nothing else happens.
There are beautifully written scenes set around a monastery. Nice elements of research in the Bodleian library. Artistic descriptions of architecture and moonlight but; even though it conjures up an eerie atmosphere it's all padding and, in some places, not even relevant. The ending with it's final reveal, through a letter, is such a let down; absolutely no surprise.
The Small Hand is a traditional English ghost story. It's individual elements are beautifully written and It's perfect fodder for one of those Christmas special 'ghost' stories they show every year on TV. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the book could have been cut back by 50% and still have told the same story. At least then there'd have been some tension and 'scary' because this very simple story wouldn't have been so unnecessarily fleshed out.
Put me very much in mind of the 1993 novel 'The Club Dumas' and the 1999 movie 'The Ninth Gate'.