Melody
ISBN-13: 9780099288473
Publisher: Vintage Books
Published: October 1998
160 pgs
Source: Personal Library






I should tell my tale, not aloud, by the fireside, not as a diversion for idle listeners - it was too solemn, and too real, for that. But I should set it down on paper, with every care in in every detail. I would write my own ghost story. Then perhaps I should finally be free of it for whatever life remained for me to enjoy. (Pg 22)


The story begins when our narrator, Arthur Kipps was asked to share a ghost story by his stepchildren after the family has enjoyed their joyful festive meals on a Christmas Eve. Arthur indeed has a story, a true story, to tell but deep down in his heart he knew it is not a story to be told for casual entertainment. The horror he encountered so many years ago had already woven into his very fibres; the experience he had is an inextricable part of his past, and he decided he would write the story, a story for his eyes only. And so in the following chapters Arthur shares with his readers his true encounter with a woman dressed in black and with a pale, wasted face.

Arthur was a junior solicitor then, and he was summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, an elderly widow who lived all alone in the desolate and secluded Eel Marsh House. It was at the funeral that he first saw a mysterious woman dressed in black and her presence both intrigued and fascinated him.

The late Mrs Drablow's house is a mystery by itself, for it situated on Nine Lives Causeway and during high tide, it completely cuts off from the mainland, surrounding only by marshes and fog. During the trip to Crythin Gifford, Arthur noticed no one is willing to share information with him after they knew he was there to attend businesses for the late Mrs Drablow. And it further intrigued him when everyone is giving him a fearful look whenever he asked about a woman dressed in black.

However, Arthur is not a person who will give up whatsoever and in addition it would seem irresponsible of him to leave the work undone. For convenience and to speed up the work, he stayed in Eel Marsh House with only the companion of a terrier, loaned to him by a local named Mr Samuel Daily. Arthur knew him when they shared the same train to Crythin Gifford, and like the others Samuel is reluctant to discuss about the late Mrs Drablow or the woman dressed in black.

Over the few days during the stay in Eel Marsh House, Arthur begins to hear some unexplainable noises in a locked room. But the most terrifying of all is the sound of a pony and trap followed by the screams of a young child which he heard a few times on several occasions. Arthur soon learned about the mystery surrounding the late Mrs Drablow and Eel Marsh House after a near fatal incident, as well as the woman in black known as Jennet Humfrye.

I am afraid there is all I could say about the woman in black, but I can tell you how much I loved the overall atmosphere and setting of this story. It is so atmospheric, not to mention the plot is thick with suspense as you watch the story slowly unfold in front of you through Arthur's eyes. The Woman in Black might appear a little cliché to some, but I think it is a great old-fashioned ghost story. Vengeance, besides the horror, is the other element which surrounds the story and this is where it leads the ending to a higher climax.

I think Arthur's narration works well in this story; and personally I enjoy reading books from a first person POV because usually the emotions you feel from the characters is the strongest, which is a totally different reading experience from a third person perspective. Because I enjoyed this book so much, I bought The Man in the Picture (by the same author) which I hope would be another good read. Have you read any of these books?

Other reviews:
A Life in Books
A Striped Armchair
Books I Done Read
Savidge Reads
So Many Books
(I am sure there are a lot others. Do let me know if I missed yours.)

13 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    This look like a very interesting ghosty story. I'm wondering about the woman in black and what behind the story of the ghost being around :) Great review as always :)


  2. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    This sounds like my kind of story! I love the spooky, traditional Gothic ghost stories. I'll definitely have to remember this one for RIP this year!


  3. Veens Says:

    I love stories full of suspense! And this one definitely fits the bill!

    Great Review!


  4. Eva Says:

    I strongly preferred Woman in Black to Man in the Picture, but I hope you enjoy the latter more than me! :)


  5. stacybuckeye Says:

    I liked ghosts stories and first person novels, so I'll have to check this one out.


  6. Nymeth Says:

    I've been meaning to read this for RIP for like 2 years. Hopefully in 2010? :P Fabulous review!


  7. bermudaonion Says:

    This sounds like a real page turner!


  8. naida Says:

    this does sound like a good old fashioned ghost story.
    great review!


  9. Melody Says:

    Julia - I hope you'll read it! It's awesome!!

    Sandy - Speaking of RIP, I hope Carl will host that challenge soon!!!

    Veens - I think you might like this one! :)

    Eva - I can't wait to read that book! ;)

    Stacy - I'm glad to hear you'll looking out for this book!

    Nymeth - I hope you'll read this for RIP this year! :P

    Kathy - It sure is!

    Naida - Yes! I had a great time reading it!


  10. Iliana Says:

    Great review, Melody! Wasn't it wonderful? I think what I loved so much about this book is that it reminded me of an old-fashion ghost story. I have read some of her other books - she's got a mystery series and they were good but a bit infuriating. The main character got on my nerves so I couldn't really go further with the series but you may want to give those a try.


  11. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Oh yes, I've seen her mystery series and I'm almost tempted to pick one up but I changed my mind because of the series. I'm such a slacker when it comes to that, LOL.


  12. Dar Says:

    Great review. This book sounds really good! I do love a ghost story.


  13. Alice Teh Says:

    I need to read this one. It's in my TBR. Thanks for the great review, Melody!