Books

The Woman in Black

Horror, I find, is a genre best suited to, preferably sunny, daylight hours. Especially when in a new home and not yet acquainted with all the odd noises of the building.

I normally avoid horror or ghost stories because, when done well, they make me nervous. I dislike odd noises in the dark at the best of times; reading, or indeed watching, supernaturally inclined stories can make that anxiety worse. Actually, not even the daylight can protect me from that: I once read a Celia Rees novel – Blood Sinister – in daylight, and the darkening of the room caused by the sun moving behind a cloud at a crucial moment in the story had me dropping the book and rushing to the window.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, though, produced no such effects. Perhaps, though, this is because I read it in fits and starts – on the train, waiting for people, the odd chapter before bed. Perhaps because it followed a structure which felt like a Conventional Ghost Story (I haven’t read enough of them to know if there is such a thing).

It felt standard: young London solicitor being sent off to eccentric client’s house (where said client lived alone) in the middle of nowhere to sort through her papers for probate, and anyone who knows anything about the place clamming up at the mere mention of it. Oh, and in the middle of November, when lots of atmospheric mist or fog or winter storms can be expected.

I can only hope that the film is better – which, despite my general aversion to horror, I now feel compelled to watch. But on a sunny afternoon with all the curtains and blinds open, and with someone else. Just in case. You never know.

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