Genre: Supernatural Thriller, Historical Fiction
Narrative Style: First person, flashback framed by a story telling session on Christmas Eve
Synopsis: It’s Christmas Eve and the Kipps family have settled down for the traditional telling of ghost stories. Arthur Kipps is reminded of his own supernatural experience, something that is has taken him years to recover from. He then tells the tale of Eel Marsh House and the Woman in Black that haunts it.
I’d been meaning to read this for a long time – from before the release of the film. I love a good ghost story and this had a lot of promise. And indeed, the beginning of the tale sets the scene quite successfully. Kipps is reluctant to tell his story and the descriptions of Eel Marsh House also seem to suggest that there is a terrible tale to be told.
And at first, it is suitably creepy. The locals warn him against staying at the house but everybody clams up when the probed too closely. However, Kipps is young and determined to prove his bravery so he does not take heed. It isn’t long before things start to go bump in the night and Kipps nerves (like those of the reader) are in shreds.
However, this early tension is wasted and the story fizzles out. Although Kipps finds evidence of who the Woman is Black is and why she is haunting the area and even though she exacts a final revenge, I was left oddly untouched. It seemed hurried and so the scares were not as effective as they could have been.
It may be another case of better read before the movie is viewed. Or maybe it is just that film as a medium is so much better able to scare. Whatever the reason, I felt let down by this in a way I didn’t by the film.