Book Review: The Small Hand, A Ghost Story by Susan Hill

The Small Hand
Adam Snow is a seller of old and rare books. Late on a fine Summer’s evening he loses his way whilst travelling back to London after visiting a client by the seaside and finds himself outside an intriguing Edwardian House called the White House. He is strangely drawn to the house and as dusk falls he gets out of his car to take a closer look at the house. While he is standing outside the entrance a strange feeling comes over him and feels a small invisible hand slip into his “as if a child had taken hold of it”. This is the start of the ghostly tale and possibly one of the most haunting lines I’ve ever read. The reader is left guessing who the small hand belongs to and the history of the “The White House” and our curiosity grows as does that of the narrator. The small hand seems a friendly presence at this stage of the novel. As the novel progresses a sense of unease grows as does the fear that this presence is not benign and is not bound to  the environs of  “The White House”.  The mystery grows, as does our fear for the narrator as he seeks to solve the mystery of the small hand.
My attention didn’t waiver from start to finish and within two days I had finished it. It’s always said to not judge a book by its cover, but the creepy cover photograph immediately drew me in (that and being a major fan of Susan Hill’s books). Ghost stories featuring children are the one thing that still manage to scare a desensitized horror fanatic like me! The scene where Adam feels the small hand take hold of his own replayed over and over in my mind, long after I finished reading it. Even though a modern-day novel unlike Susan Hills’s famous novel “The Woman in Black” it still had a Gothic feel to it,  Adam’s role as an antiquarian book seller increases this feeling further. The novel races to a satisfying finish, even if I did guess the secret of the White House before its’ reveal. The book was thoroughly enjoyable and suitably chilling at points, even if it didn’t manage to scare me as much as “The Woman in Black”.  It was atmospheric ghost story that I would highly recommend to those who like a well-told mystery.

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