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Customer Review

71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I wanted more!!!, 24 Sept. 2006
This review is from: The Mist In The Mirror (Paperback)
As soon as I found out that Susan Hill had written another ghost story, I literally ran to my nearest Waterstones to grab a copy. Having been well and truly terrified to the core by the Woman In Black, I couldn't wait to experience the same thrills which I expected from the Mist in the Mirror. In some ways, I wasn't disappointed. Susan Hill has the uncanny knack of being able to describe in vivid (and some disturbing) the stuff of nightmares. I felt trapped in the claustrophobic, winding, pitch black halls of the old school in Alton, felt genuinely unnerved by the account of what happened to the protagonist, James Monmouth, when he visited the Old Library in the dead of night (NO WAY would I have gone there at that time, not for a million pounds) and felt completely uneasy at the descriptions of the malevolent presence and the feeling of being watched. Truly scary, unnerving stuff. Fans of gory horror beware, this book relies completely on the supernatural - there is no gore. Hill is the master ghost story-teller - she knows exactly how to prey on the all the senses and knows how to unravel a mystery slowly but surely - this is what makes books like the Mist in the Mirror and the Woman in Black completely addictive - you will keep reading even though the hairs on the back of your neck will be standing from page one.

The only reason this gets a 4 and not a 5 was because of the ending. There were too many unanswered questions - who WAS the old woman he saw at the Cross Keys Inn? What WAS IT behind the curtain adn the locked door that terrified Monmouth so much that he dare not look? What was the secret of the dreaded mirror and why did it appear in several of the places that Monmouth visited... I needed an extra 100 pages to tie up these loose ends - at the moment I feel like I'm still on teh edge of the mystery...

If you like supernatural/ghost stories that rely on building up a sense of creeping horror rather than over-the-top descriptions of ghostly apparitions, then this is the book for you.

If you would like a more complete, yet thoroughly frightening scarefest - read the Woman in Black (see my review).
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Oct 2010, 16:50:46 BST
Thank you for the review of this book, I will certainly take your advice and will buy both books the woman in black and this one. thank you

Posted on 8 Jan 2014, 21:34:13 GMT
Radio Dave says:
I liked not having everything neatly explained at the end. I think the book was all the more frightening and creepy because the mystery of the woman behind the curtain was not resolved; because we did not know much more about the boy; or who the reflection in the mirror was. I'm sure a rubbishy sequal could be written dealing with the above, but that would spoil one of the better ghost stories I have read - it's worth rememberibng that not all of MR James ghost stories weer explained or neeatly tied up, and that makes the experience all the more frightening, because you know everything is not alright in the end.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Oct 2015, 14:40:01 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Oct 2015, 14:44:57 GMT
Allie B says:
I agree - leaving parts to your imagination ties in with the ghost story/Gothic genre. It's the idea of suggestion - makes it all the more mysterious. However I thought the woman in the Cross Keys Inn was a replication of the old woman who lived at/was staying at Kittiscar Hall during James Monmouth's childhood (obviously not the same old relative from near the end). He mentions that in his childhood there was an old woman with a parrot hanging by her behind one of the doors (that he sees there as an adult) and he recalled holding the hand of whichever adult was at the Hall with him for comfort. Surely this ghostly replication at the Inn was just one of Conrad Vane's tricks from beyond the grave aimed at terrifying Monmouth. Re. the mirror - I figured it was simply that Vane was misting up the mirror - another one of his torments. Obviously the mirror did that in a few places Monmouth was staying because Vane's spirit is following him, hoping to scare him to death so there are no more male Monmouth relatives; thus Kittiscar Hall gets to stay with the Vane family.

I've seen some people wonder who the boy was even though that was basically explained when Monmouth was visiting Alton public school. I think it was Dr. Dancer who told Monmouth about a boy who was one of Vane's contemporaries there, bullied and tormented by him and found hung! So we already pretty much knew that; it's just that the ending completely confirmed it i.e. when Monmouth saw his name at the chapel.
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