Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor in London, eager to take on more responsibility and move ahead in his career. His boss gives him such an opportunity - a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow, has passed away. Arthur is to travel to her remote English village to attend her funeral on behalf of the firm and then make sure her papers are in order for the estate. Sounds easy enough to Arthur, until he realizes that no one in the little town wants to talk to him about Mrs. Drablow or her house - the Eel Marsh House. The townspeople seem almost frightened. Once Arthur arrives, he sees why. The house is beyond cut off from any one else and there is the Woman in Black - a ghostly presence that fills Arthur with dread.
Ok, seriously, this is the scariest story I've read in a long time - and it's just a novella! It is beyond creepy with all the things Arthur experiences. I'll confess that it wasn't an accident that I finished this during the day instead of at night, nor that I took purposeful "breaks" when things started getting a little intense.
The setting is perfect for this ghost story! It is practically a character itself and reminded me of the moors in Wuthering Heights. I know this was made into a movie a few years back (starring Daniel Radcliffe) as the trailers freaked me out. I like reading scary stories, but hardly ever watch truly scary movies. While I haven't seen the actual movie, I can see this story being excellent source material for an adaptation. It isn't gross or bloody or anything. No, this gets right into your head instead.
If you are looking for a great scary story, but maybe don't have time for a long Stephen King novel, pick this up!
The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill
David R. Godine, 1986. First published 1983.