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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 30 October 2006
The book begins with a family sitting around the fire telling each other ghost tales. The father of the family keeps silent as he listens to the stories that his family is telling each other. He walks out of the room when they ask him to join in and spin a spooky yarn, because he doesn't want to tell the tale that has haunted his dreams ever since he was a young man. The tale he has to tell is far more horrifying, chilling and disturbing than his family could imagine. Even more shocking is that the tale he has to tell is true!

This is a most beautifully told story with wonderful descriptions of the countryside, the haunted house and the marshes that surround it. At times I felt as if I were inside the house - cautiously entering the haunted rooms and creeping around in the dark with only a candle to light the way. It's full of surprises and unexpectedly heartbreaking too. A wonderful atmospheric read that kept me turning the pages faster and faster until all too soon I reached the end.
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Susan Hill proves that a superbly written ghost story is infinitely more chilling than any gore fest in film. This is by far the best ghost story that I have ever read. Ok, so the subject matter includes all the usual staples of a good horror yarn - mysterious, young, pale women, a strange and isolated delapidated house, a village of people who will not approach the house or its estates for all the money and love in the world, mystery, intrigue and the most frightening part of all - the involvement of spectral children...
Basically this book scared the living daylights out of me and I loved it. My local library had a waiting list the same size as that for Chloe's new Paddington handbag so I bit the bullet and bought my own copy. You will read this book time and time again so buy the book!!! We have two copies in our house - we keep them in teh study even though we each have bookshelves in our rooms... The fact of the matter is, none of us are keen to keep a copy in the same place that we sleep just in case.
If you like being frightened, I would definitely read this book. Also - if you can get to the see the play in london DO SO. Don't be put off it it starts a little slow - you WILL be SCREAMING out loud and you'll come out shaking...
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on 10 June 2006
A few weeks ago, The Woman in Black was read, in half-hour instalments over the course of a several midnights, on BBC Digital Radio 7. I was hooked and didn't even investigate what I might be missing on the telly. As soon the reading was completed, I bought the book and was surprised to discover how modern it is - first published in 1983. It's like a real, traditional English ghost story - the sort that taps into our deepest fears, challenges our rational beliefs and engages our imagination. It's a story of tragedy, impotent rage, insane hatred and terrible revenge for past injustices wreaked upon innocent by-standers in the present. The haunted landscape, changing from bright sunshine to impenetrable fog, the raging storms, the isolation of the dismal house, the build-up of tension and anxiety and the slow breakdown of disbelief in a darker reality are described so well, that we can easily share in the terror.

Excellent book. Highly recommended.
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on 29 June 2004
I have just finished reading this book for the second time this week, and in different ways, it has left a lasting impression on my mind. I first read it mostly in a day, (this isn't a particuarly long novel), and although it creeped me out in a few places, and was generally a good example of a genre gothic horror tale, the book did not terrify me.
So then, later this week, in the evening, I am in the house alone and bored. I decided to read the woman in black once again, the only difference this time being it was approaching 11 o clock at night, and was on my own...
...Woah! Read at night, this is a totally new experience. I knew already what was to happen, yet being in a silent house alone in the night adds immense tension to this novel. Now, on the second time of reading, I was more tense and frightened than I can really remember. Seems funny now, but when I went to bed that night this book actually gave me pretty horrific nightmares!
I could actually feel my flesh creep, and the presence of the woman and the screaming child really did frighten me to powerful heights. Hill's writing seemed to gain in power and tension, and the atmosphere created was at points unbearably tense.
All in all this is a great read, and for any horror fan I would urge you to read this.
Pregnant woman, those of a depressed or nervous state, or people with weak hearts, approach with extreme caution.
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on 27 December 2001
I read the book first a few years ago and it truely made the hairs on my arms stand on end. The incident when all the lights in the house at Eel Marsh have gone out and the narrator realises the "woman in black" has just walked past him in the dark, has to be the one of the most spine tingling pieces of literature I have ever read. Even to this day I won't get up in the night without putting a light on !
The TV adaptation was disappointing after the story. I went to see the play in London twice, which was excellent and made me jump even though I knew what was going to happen!
This book is in a league of it's own and a definite read if you love ghost stories and don't mind being scared senseless. You just can't help thinking "why doesn't he get the hell out of that house?"!
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VINE VOICEon 26 November 2007
This short story is beautifully written and atmospheric. The descriptions of the marsh and isolated island in all weathers are wonderful and the characterisations are excellent. My one criticism would be that it wasn't heartstoppingly chilling as advertised on the cover.

Arthur Kipps is a young lawyer dispatched to attend the funeral of reclusive Alice Drablow. While visiting the isolated Eel Marsh House he is to put Mrs Drablow's affairs in order and then return to London.
What appears to be a routine task turns out to be anything but; with repercussions that will affect the rest of his life.
The villagers refuse to be drawn on the subject of Eel Marsh House or the mysterious woman dressed in black whom he first sees in the churchyard at the time of the funeral. When Arthur visits the isolated house scary events become more frequent and he begins to unravel the mystery of the Woman in Black.

I enjoyed this book more for the descriptions than the story itself.
I have seen it performed on stage, where it was much more spooky and enveloping.
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on 11 July 2006
I bought this book as it had been recommended to me. It begins rather slowly but as you read it you will see that this is a ploy to ensure that the terror slowly builds with each page you turn.

Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor, sent to deal with the affairs of a deceased client Alice Dreblow. Mrs Dreblow lived in an old isolated house, Eel Marsh House, settling in the middle of marshland. As Arthur becomes accustomed to the odd inhabitants of the nearby village and their strange reaction to Mrs Dreblow a wider and more sinister story unfolds.

Watch out for the scene where Arthur settles down for a night in Eel Marsh house.. terrifying.

If you love ghost stories, especially of the Victorian era, that are well written then do get this book, it is one of the best books I have ever read, and I have read hundreds.

Its only a shame it was not longer, but then the shortness and sharpness is what also makes this book so successful.
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on 23 November 2005
This is great if you tuck yourself up and turn the lights out.. maybe by a nice fire. I have read the book and seen the play adapted from it and this is another way of enjoying a really scary and well written ghost story. The reader doesn`t try and do too much... no shivery voices, nothing over-=done and thank goodness no spooky sound effects. But his quiet tone begins to get under your skin and the tension mounts bit by bit. not long before you are looking over your shoulder. It would make a great Christmas present for a family to listen to over the holiday.
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on 13 November 2005
A really excellent recording of a classic ghost story. Paul Ansdell reads this chilling novel extremely well, the mounting suspense slowly building throughout. It's worth listening to even if you've already read the book, or seen the play, and a must if you haven't!
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on 25 January 2016
This extremely well executed ghost/horror story will take your breath away. If you pick it up thinking, "Ghostly scares...The occasional psychological horror scene...I can cope with that", then this novel will raise your eyebrows - (and your heart rate). To be honest, it's actually hard for me to put my finger on how this novel reaches so deep into your system, but I reckon it's down to the rather ambiguous way in which Hill writes it. Her narrative could be interpreted many different ways, meaning that in a reverse-psychological sort of way Hill draws you in, gets you into a state of security, and then when you least expect it, drops you. The characters are all actually very grotesque and incongrous, but this disturbing factor further heightens the sense of unnease and menace. This is a real tour de force. It draws you in, gets you smiling, then wipes that smile right off your face as if it never existed. It's a stonkingly good read, but for the love of mercy, don't read it just before you go to bed!
Reviewed by Arron S. Munro.
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