Monday, November 11, 2013

The Small Hand and Dolly, by Susan Hill

A pair of ghostly stories.  In the first, a rare book dealer stumbled upon a deserted house in the country.  He feels a small hand grab his, despite the fact that he is alone.  From that point on, he continues to be visited by the small hand, and a compulsion to hurl himself into water.  In the second story, a spoiled young girl is sent to spend time with her aunt.  When her aunt buys her a doll, the girl shows contempt for it, because it does not meet her exact specifications.  Her bad behavior has lifelong consequences.

I found this pair of spooky stories to be delightful, and chillingly effective.  In the first story, I felt that the setting was beautifully developed.  I could see the house and the gardens in my mind.  In fact, it was almost as if a short movie were playing in my head as I read, something I always take as the sign of a strong story.  The ambiance of the story was very good.  The characters had a decidedly British feel to them.  The were a little distant, I never felt as if I got to know them that well, but it was not really necessary.

The second story was a little creepier than the first.  Once again, we had a decidedly creepy setting, an estate in the fens.  However, the characters are much more important to the story than the setting.  As a result the characters were much more developed than the first story.  However, I did not really find any of the characters all that likeable, so I was not as drawn into the story.  The action and plot was still spooky, and I was able to enjoy the story even if I disliked the characters.

The book is a quick read, and likely to appeal to fans of thrillers or paranormal stories.  

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest review.

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