Of course, my favorite ghost story of all time will still be Hill's The Woman in Black, but The Small Hand definitely comes close. It's also a short novel (a lot of people would thus call this a novella), but it is immensely satisfying.
In this story, we meet Adam Snow, a dealer in rare books, who stumbles across a long-forgotten house called the the White House after taking a wrong turn. For reasons he can't explain, he becomes drawn into the house and suddenly feels a small hand grasp his as he enters the gate. Soon after, he experiences panic attacks and apparent hauntings. And it doesn't help that the feel of the small hand becomes more and more frequent.
True to other ghost stories of Susan Hill, the phenomenon of the small hand is linked to Adam's family, more specifically to his brother, who have been confined to a mental institution during his younger years. I won't divulge the connection though, since the twist at the end is too good to reveal in this humble review.
The Small Hand is the kind of ghost story that we all long for -- with its gothic feel, its creepy atmosphere from page 1, and its pervasive feeling of thread. Fans of The Woman in Black will find common themes in this novel and, like me, will wish for Hill to come up with more ghost stories in the future.
I'm a big fan of ghost stories, and I must admit that I don't scare easily. But reading The Small Hand made me wish for a companion in the middle of the night. Yes, it is that good.
Read this book if:
- You loved The Woman in Black.
- You're a sucker for all things Halloween.
- You're a true blue ghost story addict.