Tuesday Terror! The Woman in Black by Susan Hill // FictionFan’s Book Reviews



Tuesday Terror! The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

November 19, 2019 FictionFan

Frets on the marshes…

Young solicitor Arthur Kipps is sent to the small town of Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of a client of his firm, the elderly Mrs Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The town is set on the edge of salt marshes which have encroached over the years, leaving Eel Marsh House on a kind of islet, accessible only by crossing a causeway when the tide is out. The marshes are vast and lonely, and Arthur soon picks up from the reaction of the locals that Mrs Drablow lived an isolated life, in a house surrounded by superstition and dread. Sensible young Arthur doesn’t believe in ghosts, though, so after the funeral he sets off quite happily to sort through Mrs Drablow’s papers. It won’t be long before he begins to wonder if the old tales are true…

A man may be accused of cowardice for fleeing away from all manner of physical dangers but when things supernatural, insubstantial and inexplicable threaten not only his safety and well-being but his sanity, his innermost soul, then retreat is not a sign of weakness but the most prudent course.

I’ve only read one of Hill’s ghost stories before, Printer’s Devil Court, and was rather unimpressed by it, so I went into this with fairly low expectations despite its reputation as a modern classic of the ghost story. I’m delighted to say I was wrong – this is a deliciously chilling story with plenty of spookiness and tension, and a narrator who is easy to care about.

It’s written in the style of classic ghost stories of the likes of MR James, and indeed Hill nods to one or two of the greats along the way. There’s nothing terribly original about it, but I’d say that’s true of many ghost stories – the effectiveness all comes from the story-telling. It’s set in the early part of the twentieth century, just as pony traps were giving way to cars, and Hill captures the period well, with Arthur having a modern outlook appropriate to the time and his age, but the history of the house and the origin of the haunting dating back into the darker days of the Victorian era. She also makes excellent use of her settings with some fine descriptive writing, first of the London fogs and then of the empty marshes, where sudden “frets” – sea mists – come rolling in, cutting off visibility and access to the mainland, and creating the perfect conditions for all kinds of vague eerieness to occur.

For a long time, I did not move from the dark, wood-panelled hall. I wanted company, and I had none, lights and warmth and a strong drink inside me, I needed reassurance. But, more than anything else, I needed an explanation. It is remarkable how powerful a force simple curiosity can be. I had never realized that before now. In spite of my intense fear and sense of shock, I was consumed with the desire to find out exactly who it was that I had seen, and how, I could not rest until I had settled the business, for all that, while out there, I had not dared to stay and make any investigations.

The main eerieness is, of course, the appearance of the mysterious woman in black, but she’s only part of the story – the scariest bits involve dark happenings out on the marshes, which I won’t reveal more about. The style means the scares all come from spookiness and dread – it’s happily gore-free and works much better because of it. It’s not terrifying, but it has a couple of excellent heart-in-the-mouth moments, and creates a nicely spine-tingling atmosphere of approaching doom.

Following his first scary night in the house, a kindly acquaintance from the town lends Arthur a dog to stay with him, and Spider quickly becomes an important character in her own right, providing warmth to the story as she provides comfort and companionship to Arthur. She also adds a further layer of tension, since now the reader has to worry about Spider as much as about Arthur (or, in my case, more…).

It was true that the ghastly sounds I had heard through the fog had greatly upset me but far worse was what emanated from and surrounded these things and arose to unsteady me, an atmosphere, a force – I do not exactly know what to call it – of evil and uncleanness, of terror and suffering, of malevolence and bitter anger.

The pacing is very good – it starts off slow and then builds, never becoming frantic but never dragging. And while the end is foreshadowed to a degree, it’s still done well enough to surprise and shock. Novella-length, it can be read in two or three hours, so perfect for a long winter evening, when the wind is howling around the house, and the cats are making strange noises in the room above, and somewhere outside is the sound of… is it a fox barking? Or is it a child, crying out through the fog…?

Not so scary as to give the reader nightmares, but definitely one that will tingle the spine and chill the blood. Highly recommended!

The porpy enjoyed the marsh setting too!

Fretful Porpentine rating: 😮 😮 😮 😮

Overall story rating: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Amazon UK Link

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BOOK REVIEW ~ Errol Flynn: Satan’s Angel // BookZone

Errol Flynn: Satan’s Angel by David Bret

The original Australian American action adventure star who was originally discovered by an agent of Warner Brothers. He didn’t kowtow to the studio heads though, he told it like it is, in his opinion. It’s filled with stories about his rise to stardom and life long history of debauchery, which turns out to have no bias toward either gender or age. He was also quite the party animal, which sometimes caused him trouble when he was working on movies. He found it easy to run into party buddies to join him in the evenings when he went out to prowl, and of course the women were always plentiful for all of them. He was a prodigious drinker and sometimes experimented with different drugs here and there as well.

Flynn was married 3 times and had a son and 3 daughters. I’ve gotten hooked on his exploits and have already ordered 2 more books on the subject, one written by him just before he died that came out just after, written with a ghostwriter, titled His Wicked Wicked Ways, which most are familiar with. The other book I’m getting was written as a memoir by the ghostwriter Conrad and looks to be just as juicy as he adds things that Flynn couldn’t say, really. It also goes into their time in Jamaica writing Flynn’s book together while Flynn was with the under aged Beverly Aadland, who he kept mum about in his own book, wanting to avoid another rape trial. He needn’t have worried after all, as he was too far gone to live to see any trial. Then I’ll want to look for his movies to watch, a few of the better ones, at least.

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week, we’re sharing stories from Sophia Jones, Abigail Covington, Emily Raboteau, Mayukh Sen, and Barry Yeoman.

1. A Test With No Answer

Sophia Jones | Marie Claire | October 30, 2019 | 19 minutes (4,750 words)

No procedure exists that can prove virginity, yet dangerously unscientific virginity tests occur regularly — even in the United States. Marie Claire, in partnership with the Fuller Project, investigates the controversial exams and the gray area surrounding them that endangers both patients and medical professionals.

2. What Do We Do With Robert E. Lee?

Abigail Covington | The Delacorte Review | November 4, 2019 | 27 minutes (6,750 words)

For over thirty years, Tom Delaney, a professor at Washington and Lee University, wandered in the shadows cast by Confederate monuments and statues. After Charlottesville, he was both fired up and exhausted; reluctant and motivated to finally take on the legacy of a Confederate god who’d haunted him all his life.

3. Lessons in Survival

Emily Raboteau | New York Review of Books | November 21, 2019 | 18 minutes (4,554 words)

“My grandmother was a refugee. She prized community over property. By cleaning the homes of white people — by dusting their bookshelves and scrubbing their toilets down on her knees —she was able to raise her three children in Michigan. They all lived well into old age. She ensured their survival by running. This required sacrifice, humility, strength, and faith. This is what Mabel knew, and she knew it from people like Harriet Tubman. When something is going to kill you, you run.”

4. A Comet Called Raji

Mayukh Sen | Southern Foodways Alliance | November 5, 2019 | 14 minutes (3,700 words)

“Fusion” had already become a dirty word by the time Raji Jallepalli made a name for herself. It connoted confused attempts to patch together different cooking languages under the patina of multiculturalism, as if two worlds jostled for dominance on a plate. Raji disentangled fusion from the gracelessness that the label implied.

5. Stammer Time

Barry Yeoman | The Baffler | October 5, 2019 | 15 minutes (3,864 words)

Barry Yeoman, a man with a lifelong stutter, suggests that while society mostly views a stutter as a disability, stammering really isn’t the problem at all. The real problem that needs to be cured is the assumption that those who stutter are somehow deficient.

Source: // Longreads

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News here: https://t.me/SterlingPublishingPanel and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts as a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Third Rainbow Girl // BookZone

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia

This unusual blend of true crime and memoir is rather quirky and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. There are places it felt a bit sideswiped to me, then I’d go back to enjoying it once again. The true crime parts were good, as was the history of the state and the research. The two women, Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were headed to a Rainbow Gathering festival in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, near the Virginia border. They never made it, having been murdered in a clearing that was mostly known just to locals, as it was not that easy to find. So suspicion fell on it being a local person. There was also a third girl traveling with them named Liz who survived but seemed to have disappeared.

Despite investigation and much speculation, the case went cold for a long time. It stayed fresh in many people’s minds though. Tips and breaks do happen at times later though, so some keep hope. Someone must know something. A good true crime book/memoir for those who like them, with some mystery and history. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Emma Copley Eisenberg, and the publisher.

BOOK REVIEW ~ Carrie Fisher // BookZone

Carrie Fisher: A Life On the Edge

This is a book for Carrie Fisher fans or for those like me who are really wanting to know more about her since her passing. I remember how huge her death was, on a return flight from London, just a bit before Christmas in 2016. It really was kind of a shock, as she wasn’t that old and seemed pretty healthy. Sheila Weller covers Carrie’s life here, going back before she was even born to show the makeup of her parents’ Hollywood celebrity marriage. It’s a good bio of a life that had quite a trajectory, I’m trying to imagine having the parents she had, then being in Star Wars, among other movies, AND being married to singer Paul Simon. Sure, that happens every day.

Carrie really must have been quite something as a friend and a person to have such an amazing list of people as friends. Real friends, not just acquaintances. Oh, and let’s not forget to throw in becoming an author too, of multiple best selling books, not to be sneezed at either. And all of this done in spite of dealing with some serious bipolar problems that were more than a challenge, and a lifelong problem with drug addiction. She later began speaking out on being bipolar and being open about mental illness. This was a really good book, almost perfect, for learning about Ms. Fisher as the author seems to have done some great research with many of the people who knew and loved her best. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Sheila Weller, and the publisher.

Ghosts: A Gettysburg Ghost Story // Book ‘Em, Jan O

Readers, this is a superb story from the excellent blog of reader M.B. Henry. She’s an expert on all things Gettysburg and a ghost enthusiast as well. The story is reminiscent of the famous tale of the two teachers who visited Versailles around the turn of the last century and were suddenly plunged into a different time. Don’t miss this scary tale, read more here: A Gettysburg Ghost Story
Copyright © 2019 Bookemjano – All rights reserved.

To learn more about real ghosts, please see About Ghosts: A Useful Handbook. For some great ghost stories, please see Death Be Not Loud, Rest In Fleece, and Sepia Seepage. To learn about ghosts in modern fiction, please see Infectious Ghosts. And so much more, at: Jan’s Amazon Page

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Source: // Book ‘Em, Jan O

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REVIEW ~ Tantamount // BookZone

Tantamount: The Pursuit Of The Freeway Phantom Serial Killer

I recently bought this book and its a thoroughly researched book on the subject, set in Washington, DC and is quite a saga as it goes through its various iterations of early days, the victims, the killings, rumored suspects, false solving/hoax ending and later on, cold case/ reopening. Then new life is eventually breathed into it long after it’s played out, basically starting over, having to rebuild the case with help from other agencies to obtain recovered files. There’s also a strange angle involving St. Elizabeth’s asylum that still has to be run down.

It’s quite a story that needed to be told, and true crime fans will appreciate the depth of it as it has gone unsolved for decades. The case is getting lots of media this Fall. It looks like People Investigates is also doing one of their shows on it in November sometime on the ID channel, as I just saw a trailer for the Freeway Phantom on there when the new season starts, so that should be good as well. Perhaps the renewed interest will bring about a big solve, that would be great.