The Small Hand: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill

Returning home from a client visit late one evening, Adam Snow takes a wrong turn and stumbles across the derelict old White House. Compelled by curiosity he decides to enter, only to be repelled when he feels the unmistakable sensation of a small hand creeping onto his own. This is just the beginning of a series of odd experiences.

I, again found this book on a communal bookshelf at a hotel I was staying at in Tenerife, and picked it up as I never read ghost stories or ‘creepy books’ and because I was familiar with the name Susan Hill but had never read her (she wrote The Woman in Black).

I don’t have much to say about this book, as it didn’t really stand out. It is quite a short novel, however even though it was short I still didn’t feel like a lot happened. There were some beautiful locations in the book and some vivid descriptions and some eerie moments (that admittedly made me creeped out enough that I struggled to fall asleep), however the plot was very run of the mill and there was no major excitement until the end. Adam would simply be going about his life, have an instant where he felt the small hand or felt a strange sensation, it would go away and life would resume. There was little variation.

When I say there was no excitement until the end, even then the ending was not overly exciting. The ending had the potential to bring the whole book up a step, however the revelation (I am trying to avoid spoilers so apologies for being vague) happens in the last few pages. While with most novels when there is a slight mystery you can almost to an extent detect it, it wasn’t until the last few pages that a reveal became apparent. Before this point Hill had a hundred or so pages to build the story up to the reveal, but it didn’t feel like that happened. I was very underwhelmed upon finishing this book.

The plot had a lot of potential, and I did admittedly love that he was an antiquarian book dealer. To me that was a nice touch. I love books where the main character is a big reader or is involved with books in some description. That was probably the biggest sell for me, which is not enough to keep me engrossed sadly.

However, in an effort to be objective, I think my dislike for this book may partly be because of my dislike for the subgenre. I am not a fan of ghost stories or books which set out to creep me out (I am a terrible wimp), and so I think that from the get go I may have not had a fair outlook on the story. However, going by the books I have loved in the past from ALL genres, I can at least normally stay intrigued or be waiting in anticipation for the ending. Unfortunately, this book didn’t cut it for me. I may revisit Susan Hill in the future, we shall see!

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