Book Reviews

Dolly: A Ghost Story (The Susan Hill Collection) by Susan Hill

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List Price: £9.99


Hardcover: 192 Pages.

Published: 05 October 2012 by Profile Books

Edition: Main

ISBN: 1846685745

EAN: 9781846685743

The remoter parts of the English Fens are forlorn, lost and damp even in the height of summer. At Iyot Lock, a large decaying house, two young cousins, Leonora and Edward are parked for the summer with their ageing spinster aunt and her cruel housekeeper. At first the unpleasantness and petty meannesses appear simply spiteful, calculated to destroy Edward's equanimity. But when spoilt Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants, affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying, life destroying, consequences for everyone.


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Gripping Ghost Story

This is the most recent in the collection of short novella ghost stories that Susan Hill has written over the years. The most famous (and the best in my opinion!) is "The Woman in Black".

This is the story of a man, Edward, who, on hearing of a Great-Aunt's death, returns to her home where he spent some childhood holidays. This is prior to the reading of her will. Joining him there is a cousin, Leonora, who spent one particular summer there with him. As Edward gradually remembers the events of that memorable summer, he shares them with us. We also follow Edward's life onwards.

I very much enjoyed this book, well, up until the last chapter or so anyway. Susan Hill builds up a wonderful atmosphere using mists & storms to enhance the drama which is going on as well as the insistant sound of rustling paper. The scene was beautifully described & I was able to picture the events quite clearly. I can see that this would make for an excellent stage play or film.

The characters in this book are slight exaggerated. Edward is a very meek & mild boy (& later adult)  contrasted with Leonora who is wilful, violent, spoilt and generally quite a disagreeable person both in childhood & later as an adult. There is a grumpy housekeeper as every good ghost story should have & a kind old aunt. I will leave you to discover for yourselves who, or what, Dolly is & the significance throughout the book.

I was racing through this book at quite a pace, enjoying the atmosphere & the action right up until the end. Unfortunately, the end didn't seem quite right to me & it was all quite spoilt. I can't explain the problem with the ending in detail as it would spoil the entire book. Perhaps someone else will review it in the future & I can see if they agree with me.

Susan Hill has lost none of her ability to create an atmospheric & gripping ghost story. I am pleased that I read the book & enjoyed most of it. However, perhaps other people will feel the ending works better for them.

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