Author: Susan Hill
Star Rating: 4.5/5
When Junior Solicitor: Arthur Kipps is summoned to attend the funeral of the recently deceased Alice Drablow, and deal with her old papers and financial business, little does he imagine the secrets that entangle Eel Marsh House, and the shadow that overcasts it, in village conversation. On his travels ‘up north’ he becomes acquainted with various other interesting characters including Mr Samuel Dailey, and Mr Jerome, and ultimately: the woman in black and is plunged into a chilling nightmare.
Mr Kipps, the narrator of the story, first becomes aware of the sinister tales surrounding Eel Marsh House as a result of the local’s limited conversation about the place and refusal to approach the property. However: as the sensible, level-headed man he is, Mr Kipps ignores the signs, and anticipates his task ahead. But then at Mrs Drablow’s funeral, Kipps sees a strange woman enter the church, also present in the graveyard:
She was dressed in the deepest black, in the style of full mourning that had rather gone out of fashion except, I imagined in court circles.
The initial subtlety of these descriptions make the story all the more chilling, but the author effectively leaves room for the reader’s own imagination to add to the supplied images. Having seen both both the film and theatrical production of this book, I realized whilst reading this, how different the film and the book are. Whereas Susan Hill tells the tale of the woman in black in a compelling and intriguing context, the outcome of the mystery surrounding the appearances of the woman in black is revealed quite early on in the film, surprisingly.
Also, various other details are transformed, but to avoid spoilers I will leave this to you to study! Anyway: returning to the book – when Mr Kipps travels to Eel Marsh house, and glimpses the familiar woman in black again; he realizes that the mysterious figure has some unexplained connection with either the Drablows or the house… Immediately, the reader is thrown into a terrifying journey…