Saturday 20 August 2011

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Once again, I'm reviewing - loosely - a book that's been around for a while. Since 1983, in this case. I'm currently writing a ghostly short story, so I think I was drawn to this book because of that. The actual ghostly occurrences in The Woman in Black are few and far between (I think there are probably more in my short story - perhaps I've overdone it), but it's a great example of building atmosphere and tension. I read it in one sitting, because I couldn't bear to put it down.

Although it was published in 1983, the setting is much earlier, and the style even earlier than that. It works because the roundabout style sucks you in, so you're slap bang in the middle before you even realise it, much like - I assume - if you were actually being haunted. The comparison I want to use is on the tip of my tongue, but I can't remember (I've just scanned my book shelves, and it still won't come).

Anyway, moving on...

My own story is also quite a traditional ghost story, albeit told by the point of view of the ghost. I don't know how that happened, sometimes the voice is fully formed before I work out how to convey it. Now that I've read The Woman in Black I'm re-reading what I've already done, just to make sure I'm pacing the action correctly rather than holding back too much, or dropping everything onto the page at once.

Sometimes, I really feel as though I've left trying to get my work published far too late. Sometimes I have the idea that I'm just a little, tiny, weeny bit .... ssshhh .... old-fashioned...


  1. I've not read this one, but I love a good ghost story. I'm intrigued that your own work is from the pov of the ghost. I like something a bit different.

    As for your worry - it all cycles round and round. And I'll take a well-written 'old -fashioned' story over a 'write by numbers' modern one any day :)

  2. It is worth reading, if you like ghost stories.

    And thank you for the reassuring words re old-fashioned writing. I have these crises of confidence every so often, especially when I read recently published stuff and try to compare myself.

  3. Sounds really interesting - from the point of view of the ghost! Best of luck, Annalisa :-)

  4. Thanks Linda,I just hope it lives up to its hype. I've made it a lovely unpublishable 11,000 words!


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