The Small Hand by Susan Hill.
Susan Hill is justly renowned for her ghost stories – her best-known one is The Woman in Black which is both chilling and a darned good read. The Small Hand is her latest, and I thoroughly enjoyed it too.
It starts off simply. Adam Snow, an antiquarian bookseller is on his way home from meeting a client when he gets lost up winding country roads. Looking for somewhere to get directions he finds an old overgrown garden with a rambling and rather closed-up white house. Just when he thinks he’s totally alone, he feels a small hand take his – but there’s no-one there. Adam puts it down to an overactive imagination, but over the following weeks he starts to get slightly paranoid and he has what he believes is a full-on panic attack. He goes on a book-hunting trip abroad and he feels the hand again – but this time it is pulling him towards a precipice, and from hereon in things start to get dangerously spookier.
This short novel has only 167 small pages and only needs one sitting – indeed taking a break in the middle could deflate the tension. Hill has great skill in crafting books where ‘less is more’ and not a word is wasted. Adam narrates his own story, and this really involves the reader as we share in his experiences; him being a bookseller was an added bonus for me too. After his initial encounter we’re lulled into a false sense of security until events take a different turn; the pace picks up and we’re pulled along towards the shocking conclusion.
This was a great little book – perfect for the time of year. (8.5/10) I bought this.
pub by Profile Books, Sept 2010, 167 pages.