Review of a Book + Movie ~ The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Classic Gothic thriller fans will enjoy Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK novel, especially if followed by the movie as a back-to-back experience. Well portrayed imagery in the novel followed by haunting cinematography in the movie is a great combination.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Available now in Print, eBook, Audio, plus available in Blue-Ray/DVD
ISBN: 978-0307745316 | Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
Book pulled from my Print TBR Mountain Range, purchased by me and the Blue-Ray was rented.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK Book Review…
As a long-time fan of Gothics, I was anxious to see THE WOMAN IN BLACK movie and so naturally, I wanted to read the book first. For me, watching the movie before reading the book doesn’t normally work because a good book usually plays out like a movie in my head. Seeing the movie first would spoil my ability to become thoroughly absorbed with the words.
I wasn’t sure what to think as the narrator, Arthur Kipps, begins his story with long sentences within large paragraphs, describing his life as it is now, then reverting to the past. His rambling style was difficult to follow at first, but curiosity kept me reading and what an absorbing, chilling story Arthur Kipps has to tell.
As a solicitor, Arthur is asked to travel to a deceased client’s funeral in a small English town, and then gather important papers from her home. The fact that the home is isolated by the incoming tides of the salt marshes isn’t concerning until Arthur discovers the history of the house and its inhabitants. Not just discovers the history, but experiences it vividly first hand. A quick retreat is wanted but not possible until the tides withdraw from the causeway. Determined to complete the task requested by his employer, Arthur ignores all warnings from locals plus his own first experiences, insistent that all will be fine and goes back to finish his assignment. The woman in black has much to share with Arthur. Will he survive the malevolence at Eel Marsh House?
THE WOMAN IN BLACK is exactly what a Gothic lover like me looks for, something creepy but not gory, scary and compelling, but not so much so that you can’t sleep at night, and still scary enough to wonder what just woke you unexpectedly.
Of course, there were quite a few moments when I tensed and rushed to find out what happened next. For a small trade-size book at just 164 pages, this book packs an enthralling story easily into a small package, with an unexpected ending as the final gasp. This thriller is ideal for those looking for an absorbing short tale reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.
Having just finished the book, it was fun to watch the movie immediately after so that the storyline was still fresh in my mind. If you haven’t read the book, the first part of the movie may be a bit confusing but I think it completes the storyline fairly well by the end. Personally, I think reading the book and watching the movie should be a package deal. You get so much more from both by making it a back-to-back experience.
The movie is much scarier and vivid than the book, as it should be since you’re using most of your senses. The movie caught me off guard with sound and visual effects numerous times, making me jump even if I suspected something would happen. It’s that scary type of fun that makes you laugh at yourself for being taken in by the movie. It’s not gore or horror, but it’s the good frightful excitement of an engaging ghost story. I enjoyed the classic Gothic style mixed with today’s cinematography techniques which made the movie nostalgic as well as freshly entertaining.
The book and the movie each start off different and end unalike, but the movie’s divergence isn’t so far from the book that it’s disappointing. In some ways the book is better than the movie, and in others, the movie is much, much better than the book. I liked them both, but if I had to choose which one was best, I’d vote for the movie just because it engages more of your senses, giving a broader overall eeriness. The house has such a classic, realistic gothic feel and the colors were perfect for the aura and time period. Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur convincingly and he often projects the creepiness of a situation without saying a word. The large cast was well chosen, believable and added atmosphere to the haunting feel of the movie. I loved the clothing and set design, which completed the visual appeal.
The causeway to Eel March House was just as I had envisioned it, so for that, I believe the book created the perfect scenes in my mind to recognize it with clarity in the movie. The movie enhanced the townsfolk’s stories and how they felt about the family and their house, especially why they feared Arthur’s interference. The book left this more to your imagination.
In the end, the book and the movie both surprised me with their ending, which made them both unpredictable experiences. For an entertaining weekend, read THE WOMAN IN BLACK and then watch the movie. I think the combined enjoyment is more than one or the other will give you alone, which makes it a fun idea for a book discussion.
What’s on your mountain?