Misses the Mark,
This review is from: The Woman In Black (Paperback)
This is the author's attempt at a traditional ghost story in the manner of masters such as MR James and his brother Henry,(Joke!). Unfortunately it seems a little out of focus and stylistically jumbled. For me, in spite of the heavy use of conventional atmosphere, it didn't manage to provide the requisite creepiness. The voice of the narrator seemed Victorian in his use of expressions like "so it came about that..." and "unable to impart to him any of my extreme emotions".
The story is told in flashback, so I couldn't pin down the time that the events were supposed to have happened; pony and trap feature several times, but then a car comes into the narrative, so the period must have been a good deal later than I had thought. Nor is the part of England that the events took place clearly defined. I think that specific time and location help to create authenticity, and these were missing here. The first chapter "Christmas Eve" has little bearing on the rest of the story and could easily have been left out.
The hauntings are disappointingly conventional and cliche-ridden: the rocking-chair that rocks on its own, the dark figure standing in a churchyard, for example. The ending too, is predictable, and there is no explanation as to the part played by the recently deceased owner of the haunted house. So for me, a disappointment and I hope the film version has improved on the novel.