Monday, 21 February 2011

The Small Hand

Susan Hill's new ghost story is a subtle and insidious melancholy tale about a book collector who on discovering a lonely house feels a ghostly small hand slip into his own. From a strangely subdued beginning Hill weaves a clever story that hides deeper fears and anxieties behind the trappings of the ghost story. Fear of insanity, incipient madness waiting on the edges of our perceptions like a dark spider, can be far more terrifying than fear of the supernatural. What Hill does here is to blur the lines between the two, and even though this book won't have you nervously inspecting the darkest corners of the room, or even make you shiver with disquiet, it is a finely drawn story that subtly engenders introspection. The gaps in our knowledge of the working's of the mind and the question of the unexplained, the supernatural are all topics that can be examined but never fully brought completely into the light of human understanding. Hill impresses again by challenging the reader on many different levels rather than simply trotting out a string of strange happenings to raise a chill thrill.

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