I had to read a horror novel for this week's Resources for Adults class, and I didn't want to read the usual zombie/gore/apocalypse-by-vampires stuff that seems to be all over the place. I wanted to read a good old fashioned ghost story. And in this novel by Susan Hill, I got two stories.
The first story, The Small Hand, is about a Adam. He's a rare book dealer, living in London and traveling the world in search of books that clients want and are willing to spend a lot of money to add to their libraries. While leaving a client's country home, he gets lost and winds up in front of a decrepit place called "The White House". It was obviously once a place that welcomed visitors; a ticket booth sits outside, and the remains of what were once spectacular gardens are all around the house. Adam finds himself wandering around, and when he stops to look and listen, something truly frightening happens: he feels a small hand in his. But there's no one there.
This haunts Adam, and while the story unfolds, he has many frightening experiences. This small hand is not a good thing. But what is it? And how is it tied to the White House? Is Adam going crazy?
The next story, Dolly, is a lesson to every young girl out there--do not get pissed off when you don't get the doll you want. Edward and Leonora are two cousins sent to spend a summer at their Aunt Kestrel's home, Iyot House, out in the wilds of England. Leonora is a spoiled brat who travels the world with her mother; Edward is parentless and very quiet. Leonora has always wanted a particular doll, and her mother won't give it to her: an beautiful indian princess, dressed in velvets and jewels. She even describes it in detail to Edward, who draws a picture for her. Her birthday arrives, and Aunt Kestrel has made an all day trip to London to bring back a doll for Leonora.
It's a baby doll. Oops.
Leonora pitches a fit and throws the china baby doll against the fireplace, cracking it's head. Edward is creeped out by the doll, so he ends up burying it in the cemetery. Oh--the doll also makes weird rustling sounds at night.
Well, this all comes back to haunt the both of them, as they grow up, move around the world, and have children of their own. Not telling anymore, cause it really is a pretty good story and I don't want to spoil it for you!
Rating: 7/10 for just sheer fun reading during halloween week. Love reading 'horror' novels that rely on noises, whispers, and building of uneasiness rather than blood and gore.
Available in paperback and ebook.