The Small Hand and Dolly

Susan Hill. Vintage, $15 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-345-80665-9
Spiritual malignance stemming from tragic pasts casts sinister nets of revelation and despair in two subtle, intelligent, and shocking modern ghost stories from Hill (The Woman in Black). These poetic and emotionally painful nightmares lay waste to the claim that the ghost story is dead and buried. In “The Small Hand,” antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow visits the grounds of a derelict house, where a small, cold hand grasps his own. Urging him to self-annihilation, this wrathful spirit leads Adam to unravel an ancient crime that may involve his own family. In “Dolly,” a future classic of the genre, Edward Cayley returns to his late Aunt Kestrel’s Iyot House, where a moldering china doll weeps in a churchyard. Rage culminates in tragedy as a simple toy soiled by a child’s hatred visits revenge on the innocent. Hill’s unemotional style envelopes the uncanny in prosaic realism, and her suggestive approach achieves superb uneasiness. Unresolved moral complexities bedevil victims in an unjust universe where decency is no protection from evil. Hill’s characters are haunted by conscience and insecurity as well as specters. Fear aficionados take note: these pleasing terrors shatter nerves with a whisper, not a scream. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 09/24/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 156 pages - 978-0-345-80666-6
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