Book Reviews

The Mist In The Mirror by Susan Hill

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 304 Pages.

Published: 02 September 1999 by Vintage

Edition: New Ed

ISBN: 0099284367

EAN: 9780099284369

This is a novel for readers who enjoy a good tale that is well told, and who find that nothing chills the blood as effectively as an old-fashioned, chain-rattling ghostly villain (The Times )


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Debra Found


Having been a great fan of Susan Hill's "Woman in Black", I was particularly keen to get this book out of the library. Unfortunately, this book does not reach the high standard set by "The Woman in Black" & I finished it feeling rather disappointed.

The whole concept of the book was very good. It is the story of middle aged James Monmouth who arrives in London having lived overseas since the age of 5. He has no family or knowledge of his early life. He decides to investigate the life of Conrad Vane, a travel writer whose footsteps he has followed for many years with a view to perhaps publishing a book about him.

This book seems to be set in Victorian times though no dates are given. Monmouth seems to have money of his own and no requirement to work. Monmouth is a good solid character, quite typical of a gothic ghost story. He seems to be fairly down to earth & takes quite a bit to be rattled.There are some other good characters in this book, such as the bookseller & Dancer, the archivist at the school. These do show what the author is capable of creating.

The atmosphere of this book is expertly created. We start with feelings of uneasiness, sightings of a strange boy, dreams & seeing things that aren't there. Later we build up to a climax of terror. I should state, however, that this isn't really a horror story but more of a ghost story. It lends far more to it's atmosphere and the reader's imagination than to description of terrible & scary events.

The great problem with this book is that numerous questions are raised throughout the book but no answers are given. This left me immensley frustrated. What is the undescribable horror of Conrad Vane? What is the family curse? Who is the woman with the parrot? Why does he imagine doors that aren't there & children sobbing? I have read this book & am none the wiser. There are a few hints given but nowhere near enough to allow the reader to build an idea of what has happened in the past & what is happening to Monmouth throughout the story. This left me immensley disappointed & slightly cross. I am quite happy with books that don't spell out every little detail and leave hints for the reader to piece things together for themselves. In fact I enjoy that sort of book. Unfortunately this book provided no conclusions & very little in the way of hints.

I feel that Susan Hill really let herself down in this book. The writing & atmosphere that was created are very good, it is the lack of story & details that is the problem. Please do not read this expecting a work of the calibre of "The Woman in Black" as this book just isn't cut from the same excellent cloth.

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