The Woman in Black – film/book review

Last night, after spending three years on my bookcase, I finally got round to finishing Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black.’ After seeing the film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe, I was eager to finish the book I had started so long ago. For anyone who has not seen the film or read the book, it is the tragic story of a young lawyer who is sent to Eel Marsh House to sort through the papers of the late Mrs. Drablow. While he is there, he experiences many unexplained events and is haunted by the ghost of a woman in black – a woman whose presence leads to deadly results.

The book is wonderfully written. You find yourself being drawn into the experiences of the narrator until you begin to feel on edge yourself – something that not many books manage to achieve.  The book less than two hundred pages long and with something gripping happening in every chapter (roughly ten pages long) you can’t help but wanting to read chapter after chapter in one sitting.

I was amazed at how true to the book the film really is. Often filmmakers take advantage and turn the story into something completely different, but in this case it is not true at all. Admittedly the film does introduce the underlying story much sooner to keep the action going, but it still holds on to the essence of the book. The film also uses the advantage of visual and audio effects to build up the suspense to create scenes where the audience cannot help but jump out of their seat…even if you think you can predict what is coming!

The main difference between the book and the film that I encountered was the ending. The film leaves the audience with complete closure and, what could almost be interpreted as a happy ending in the reunion of the lovers and the expelling of the ghost. However, the book offers no real conclusion to the story, somehow making it scarier, as you are still left with questions at the end, which keeps you thinking about the book a long time after you have finished it.

Overall, I found that both the book and the film are wonderful examples of a truly gripping ghost story. The book is a completely unique concept that, even for those who have seen the film, offers something very new and will keep you wanting to read more. The film offers an interpretation of the book that is very true to it, while offering something that people who had already read the book wouldn’t expect. I would strongly recommend both reading the book and watching the film, as even though they tell the same story, they are wonderfully unique.

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2 thoughts on “The Woman in Black – film/book review

  1. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    Love what you say about being drawn into the experiences of the narrator, that’s exactly what I find about Susan Hill’s writing, she makes you emapthise with the characters and in reading this book, I kept wavering between, it’s real, it’s not real, trying to stay with the sanity of the character who was being ever so practical and oh so brave. I don’t think I could watch the film, the music always gets me and makes me a wreck, the few images I saw were enough. But the story was fabulous, I loved what she did to provoke the reader’s imagination.

    • Hannah Ackroyd says:

      I totally agree, you really admire the narrator for being so brave – I know I could never be! I’ll admit that a lot of the film was watched through my fingers! But I felt that it really did justice to the book which I was really impressed with. I was surprised how well it adapted to film. She must be the greatest modern ghost writer, it’s a shame more people don’t write good ghost stories anymore!

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