Friday, 3 September 2010

The Small Hand by Susan Hill

I loved this book from the moment it was in my hands...yes a bit formulaic but just chillingly fabulous. If you like decaying houses, eerie children who have died tragically young, old and vague photographs, blurry visions with uncertainty over whether some characters are real or ghosts, you will love this!

It is told through the voice of Adam Snow, an antiquarian bookseller, who stumbles upon a derelict house that he feels strangely drawn to. As he walks the gardens, he feels a small hand creep into his own. As the story progresses, the little hand becomes menacing, trying to pull Adam into danger. Susan Hill manages to connect this story to Adam and his brother and their own childhood as you realise this 'little hand' has been following the two men for a long time.

Henry James' 'The Turn of the Screw' is referenced in this story which is no surprise as it does have the same chilling feel and has convincingly portrayed the ghost of a very small child as a threat. Not a dissimilar structure to Hill's other classic 'The Woman in Black' and perhaps even better in my opinion.

It came out yesterday and I've already read it, the literary snob will say it's a supernatural soap opera but I say it's a good ghost story and very Susan Hill... simply spooky and equally, alarmingly tragic.You will be left wanting to put your hands in your pockets next time you're near water.

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