- Susan Hill
Publisher: Profile Books
Returning home from a visit to a client late one summer's evening, antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow takes a wrong turning and stumbles across the derelict old White House. Compelled by curiosity, he approaches the door, and, standing before the entrance feels the unmistakable sensation of a small hand creeping into his own, 'as if a child had taken hold of it'. Intrigued by the encounter, he determines to learn more, and discovers that the owner's grandson had drowned tragically many years before. At first unperturbed by the odd experience, Snow begins to be plagued by haunting dreams, panic attacks, and more frequent visits from the small hand which become increasingly threatening and sinister ...
Last week something horrible happened to me. I left the house without a book! I managed to make it to the office between the metro paper and my MP3 player but I wasn’t going to suffer again on the way home. Instead I went to a local charity store at lunch and picked up this book for £1 to keep me busy on my hour commute homewards – a horror story to fit with my mood!
This is only a short book, less than 200 pages and no word is wasted. As the central character, Adam Snow is a little bland. While it is told in first person from his point of view, I never really felt like I knew Adam or what motivated him. He is a blank canvas so I was never overly bothered by his frightening experiences, although I did like his job as a rare book dealer. The strongest element was the ambience as Susan Hill manages to create an atmospheric and timeless ghost story with an intriguing central mystery. As with most good ghost stories there is an ageless element to the story which makes the odd mention of emails jar slightly. The description of the run down gardens and White house are invocative and draw vivid images in the mind. I loved the writing style and was instantly drawn into the story.
The mysteries around the small hand are appealing, but for some reason the idea of a small invisible hand holding yours doesn’t scare me much. In fact for a ghost story it was less scary and more absorbing with the tale itself the main reason to continue reading. I am looking forward to reading more Susan Hill – hopefully with a scarier ghost!
Recommended for fans of Amanda Stevens and Michelle Paver. 7 out of 10.