The Woman in Black

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 February, 2012, 12:00am


The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill (read by Paul Ansdell)
Long Barn Books (audiobook)

Amazing what Harry Potter can do. I had neither read Susan Hill's classic piece of modern gothic nor seen the long-running play until I heard Daniel Radcliffe was portraying Hill's hero, Arthur Kipps, on screen. Downloading the audiobook at once, I was all ears. Kipps is a young, ambitious if somewhat pedantic lawyer, ordered to administer the estate of the recently deceased Mrs Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House in the remote English town of Crythin Gifford. At the burial a sinister woman in black catches Kipps' eye. As he sorts through Drablow's papers, he hears things going bump in the night, and unravels a tale to chill his soul. Drablow's sister, Jennet, had a son, Nathaniel, out of wedlock. Drablow and her husband adopted the boy, only to lose him in an accident on the marshes. The woman in black is said to be Jennet's ghost, returned to curse all those who encounter her. Paul Ansdell reads with the careful attention one would expect from the diligent Kipps. He is good at describing his growing horror. Listen by all means, but not late at night.