Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor in vague olden times (Victorian era England, I assume) who is sent out from London to deal with the very jumbled papers of the late Mrs. Drablow. He’s pretty happy about the whole affair until a ghost shows up. Sort of horror ensues.
I had problems with this book. Firstly, there are people in this world who can write a first person narrative within a bygone era and sound as if they lived there themselves. And then there are those who sound as if they’re trying way too hard. Susan Hill is that second option, unfortunately. It hit me as soon as I started reading and didn’t relent at any point.
Next up, our main character. I didn’t really connect with this guy at all. Here is, I think, the crux of why. If the story had been handled in albeit a more cliche fashion, wherein Arthur is told some horrible story and remains brave in the face of it, it would’ve made more sense to me. Instead, he sees the ghost, sees the uniquely terrible expression it wears and reads it accurately. Experiences things that send him running with soiled britches. He’s even convinced there are ghosts haunting the estate and doesn’t try to placate himself with rational explanations. Then decides to go ahead anyway. This guy has no survival instinct whatsoever.
Yet when the eerie stuff starts, it’s good and eerie. That ending has a nice impact, as well. But saying, “oh, when you get to the good parts…” feels really cheap. I can’t recommend it based on a few good parts. Not to mention that any tension that could’ve been had from a mystery to be solved is wasted on the predictability of it. I had figured out what was going on at Eel Marsh House a lot quicker than Arthur did. I also foresaw that ending from about twenty pages away.
Do you like Victorian era, historical fiction? And ghost stories? Then this might be for you. I’m admittedly not that big of a ghost story fan, so that probably impacted me in the negative. As always, these reviews are just opinions based on my personal preferences.