I’ve heard this book lauded as a classic horror novel, but it’s really nothing more than a sort of dull ghost story. The blurb on Goodreads calls it “a ghost story written by Jane Austen”, but it’s a pretty poor imitation of her style, in my opinion.
“No, no, you have none of you any idea. This is all nonsense, fantasy, it is not like this. Nothing so blood-curdling and becreepered and crude – not so…so laughable. The truth is quite other, and altogether more terrible.”
Written in the 1980s but set in the 1800s, Hill chose to write the story in a traditional Gothic style. It stars a lawyer named Arthur Kipps, now retired, as he recounts a case he worked years ago. He had to go to an island to deal with the personal effects of a deceased client — who of course lived all by herself, out on the moors. He sees a woman on the island, who turns out to be a legendary local ghost. Fascinated, he gets himself into trouble trying to find the real story.
It’s a pretty sad story, honestly, but nothing spectacular. I found the writing style overblown and occasionally annoying, but I don’t really like that style even when it IS Jane Austen, so your mileage may vary. Mostly, I was disappointed that I had heard SO MUCH about this book, and it turned out to be pretty lame.