Some of these tasks are a little like trial and error, and this is one of them. Task 38 is to read a book that makes me cry, but since I’m trying to read mostly new books I have no idea what books would scare me and what books would make me cry. The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill is a scary book, but I don’t think it’s the scariest book I could have read. You have to have the correct ambiance to get the best experience.
Arthur Kipps is a young lawyer looking for an opportunity to make a name for himself. When he is summoned to the office of his employer with a task to go to the house of Mrs. Drablow, the recently deceased resident of Eel Marsh House in a little known corner of England, and take care of certain issues in regards to her home and other worldly possessions. Eager for the opportunity to take on more responsibility, Arthur takes the earliest train out. But what he thought to be an easy assignment soon takes on all new dimensions when he arrives at the dreary mansion home. There he discovers that something supernatural continues to walk the halls of the house, a woman dressed in black whose purpose is unknown but whose malevolent intent is all too clear, and Arthur is now within reach.
Reading this book at night by yourself, optimally in a house in the woods, but at least in a house where there isn’t a lot of man made noise would help this book come to life in a terrifying way. However; if you read it in your bedroom during the day where your wife is laughing at Youtube videos or at work in the break room where other people are talking to one another (also during the day) you don’t get the same scare factor.
Was it scary? If I had been reading it at night, yes, but even during the daylight hours with people all around I could still feel the intensity of the scenes. When I allowed myself to slip into the story I could feel the beginning tugs of being pulled into the dark inner chambers of Eel Marsh House. It wasn’t until I got to the end of the book that all the events and feelings were brought home in one fell stroke that left me stunned. Those last two pages were what made me tremble. It presented the idea that there is darkness in the world, and once someone lets it into his or her life there is no easy escape.
This book is not scary like the Saw movies, which rely on graphic imagery and shock (mingled with a little suspense), but instead draws it’s power entirely from suspense and the audiences ability to imagine what is happening. . For anyone who has seen The Lady in White, a suspense horror movie, The Woman in Black is similar to that. Suspense movies rely on atmosphere to create fear more than detailed description/visuals and music. A slasher movie relies more heavily on detailed gore and shock value to elicit the same adrenaline pumping experience.
So although I did enjoy this book and now feel a little more comfortable stepping into the horror genre, I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t get as scared as I wanted to, which is not something I normally say. (I have an overactive imagination that let’s horror movies stay with me for as long as several days).
My mom recommended this book to me and I was excited to use it for this challenge, but I think it was because she talked it up so much as being a terrifying story that I spent most of the book waiting for the really scary part to come, and as a result I didn’t enjoy it as much as could have. Hopefully this review will help anyone who wants to read this book (and I think everyone should) to be properly prepared for the experience. In other words grab a copy, plunk yourself down in a nice comfortable chair (helps to give you a feeling of false security), make sure the sun has gone down and that you won’t be disturbed while you’re reading, and start from the first page.
If anyone has any recommendations of other horror novels or stories that they think I should read or want me to blog about than just post them in the comments and I will do my best.