There are very few novels that purport to be scary that have ever actually made me not want to read them at night. I tend to read before bed, y’see. But when I got to the end of a chapter about halfway through The Woman In Black, I knew I had to stop and turn out the light, otherwise I’d be reading till I got to the end and then be unable to sleep because it’d be preying on my mind.
That’s how good this novella is. Basically, Arthur Kipps is a young lawyer in London who is sent somewhere in the Northeast to Eel Marsh House, as a long-time client of his employer has passed away and someone needs to sort out their affairs. When he gets to the nearest village, he finds that the locals aren’t very interested in talking about the house or its recently-deceased occupant. in fact, they seem downright phobic about it. And then he finds out why.
The Woman in Black is incredibly atmospheric and — dare I say it — filmic. You can see Eel Marsh House in your mind’s eye and experience it the same way Kipps does when he first arrives. This is all great except for the scary bits, because the excellent writing makes it really fucking scary!
The film adaptation is being advertised at the moment, and I was actually keen to see the film until I decided to look up the trailer. I can already tell it’s going to be utter shite compared to the book. The book is a ghost story. The film looks to be typical horror schlock, turning the plot into a caricature of its spooky self. But I suppose it’s commercial. *sigh*
You’re better off watching this video of Daniel Radcliffe (who plays Kipps in the film) reading an extract from the actual book: