153, 2012, amazon, book, book review, books, dolls, Dolly, entertainment, fiction, folk tale, genre, ghost, ghost story, greed, pages, review, Susan Hill, The Man in the Picture, The Woman in Black, tragedy
Author: Susan Hill
Prices for:- Kindle – £4.74 Hardback – £6.89 Paperback – £7.99
(Source of above information: amazon.co.uk)
From the author of The Woman In Black, comes this new tale of ghostly goings ons. I don’t often read books of such genres, but after reading Hill’s The Man in the Picture I thought I should read her most recent work.
The story revolves around a quiet and sensible man in his early 40’s, Edward, and his fiery and snooty 40-something cousin, Leonora. The only connection they have, apart from blood, that ties them together in this story is an event that took place in their childhood one summer at their aunt’s house. An event that would affect them and their loved ones till death.
The book is a short ghost-ish story. There are no great episodes as it focuses on a handful of characters and revolves around one event that affect Edward and Leonora in mysterious ways. This ‘big event’ was brought about because of Leonora’s ungrateful and greedy nature, yet Edward seems to be suffering from it more than his cousin.
The book begins with Edward visiting his late aunt’s house, the very house in which the ‘horror’ occurred Once there, old memories are brought back to him and we are taken back to when Edward was 8 years old. He then tells us about how he meets his beautiful cousin to only find that she’s a spoilt brat who likes bossing him around.
The ‘terrible crime’ occurs when the children’s aunt buys Leonora a plain porcelain white doll but instead of being grateful, Leonora throws it across the room and it breaks. From then on, Edward is haunted by crying and rustling that cannot be explained. The poor boy wants to get rid of it for his cousin and himself, so he buries it in his aunts back garden.
The doll is forgotten from then on and the cousins part ways, only to be reunited in the present to hear the will of the deceased aunt in whose house they lived in so long ago. And once again the strange crying and rustling begin and both Edward and Leonora are greatly disturbed. So when Edward decides to dig the doll up again, the cousins find that the doll has aged! It has white hair and wrinkly skin. Then they bury the old doll again and part ways once more.
Roughly 3 years later, the cousins now each have a child and both their children fall ill. But the really spooky part was this: Leonora’s daughter looked as old and ill as the old doll that Edward buried for her all those years ago, and Edward’s daughter is struck by a strange illness that resembles the doll which he bought for her.
To put it simply, it’s about the danger of greed and the book sways towards morally informing the readers of the crime of such a deadly sin.
The conclusion is disappointing. The story has no real beginning or end, it’s simply meant to be scary. It may appeal to some to know that things are left unresolved, which adds to the mystery I guess, but I felt the story was lacking in more ways. One being that I think it very unreasonable that Edward should have to suffer because of Leonora’s bad deeds. It’s not his fault he was too nice for his own good and wanted to help her, till the very end!
This is definitely not one of Hill’s best work and it only gets a 3/5 from me because of how the spooky atmosphere was well made. I still haven’t read The Woman in Black so I’m not so sure about keeping it on my reading list. People say it’s her greatest work, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.