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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 April 2017
Adam Snow, antiquarian book dealer, is lost and comes upon an abandoned and isolated house. As he stands looking at it, he feels a small hand take his. From this, the story is born.

Susan Hill masterfully evokes an unsettling and creepy atmosphere, not only in the isolated countryside but in Oxford and in a remote monastery. The owner of the small hand haunts him. The link is not what I expected and this short and intense story hit the spot for me.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 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'.
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on 20 August 2017
This story reminded me a little of Rebecca the Daphne Dumaurier classic, I could almost imagine this story as a black and white movie with Laurence Olivier. I loved the way the story isn't bogged down with unnecessary narrative, a perfect short story.
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on 27 June 2017
I have always enjoyed her books but I like the Detective ones better. This was a simple ghost story so a bit boring
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on 26 January 2013
I did read through to the end of this book although I don't think it is on the same level as 'Woman in Black'. Overall, I think it's a good read with an interesting twist which I didn't see coming.
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on 10 August 2015
Susan Hill is the Boss!
This one is a cracker.
And such a pretty little book...
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Readers of Susan Hill's earlier works, in particular her modern classic, The Woman In Black, will know that she is a writer of beautifully-crafted ghost stories, full of all the subtleties and sensitive shifts in mood and atmosphere that all good ghost stories should have. The Small Hand doesn't disappoint on that score. As antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow becomes more and more affected by the 'small hand' of an invisible child that grips his as he explores the grounds of a dilapidated country house, the mood shifts gradually and insidiously as the small hand takes his more and more often and begins to reveal a more sinister purpose.

The Small Hand really does have all the ingredients of a classic ghost story. A creepy old manor house, the unlocking of the secrets of the past, a steady building of tension, a truly unsettling scene with echoes of Miss Havisham, and a startling revelatory ending that suggests that maybe, Adam Snow has been closer to true horror all his life than he could ever have realised.

However, for me, the ending - while clever and utterly unexpected - is also the book's weakest point. Its revelation is shocking, but oddly perfunctory, and I wanted just a little more detail to exploit its nature to the full. I wanted just a little bit more from it - and when I say 'a little bit', I mean a little. Three or four lines could have accomplished it. But this is a small gripe; apart from that, The Small Hand is a great English story in the tradition of MR James, and for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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on 14 December 2010
The first thing to say about this book is buy the book itself and not the Kindle version. The book has a beautiful cover and is just visually worth having and I think you will miss something if you don't buy the book itself. The second thing is that this is not a particularly big book and so depending on how fast you read or how much time you have it will not take you long to read this, so don't expect a big blockbuster, in this case, quality, not quantity. As with The Woman in Black, Susan Hill has a very descriptive way of writing that draws you in. I have yet to finish the book but I am hoping not to be disappointed by the ending and although the book is set in the summer it is just the thing for dark evenings with the curtains drawn and the fire lit. Enjoy.......
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on 5 April 2011
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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on 5 September 2010
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. I think it's in part the fact the story is in first person and so you read on as if it is happening to you. In the main I think it's all down to Susan Hill's writing and the atmosphere she subtly builds as the story goes on. Its not a book that scares you like a sudden 'BOO' would, its one that initially chills and then builds and builds on that.
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