Readers, you may have thought “Hey, Susan Hill! She wrote that Woman in Black, right?” Yes, she did, so you’d think she knows a little something about how to tell a good ghost story. Maybe she does, but she didn’t do a very good job of it here. No, that’s being too nice. The author did a piss poor job on this book.
Adam Snow is an antique book dealer, and after getting lost coming back from a client’s house, Adam finds himself outside a long-abandoned public garden. SUDDENLY, he feels a ghostly cold hand in his, like a small child. This is in chapter one, and it is the ONLY time the book manages to be vaguely exciting. And from this point forward, Adam is so oblivious to his being haunted because he thinks his books are SO FASCINATING. THEY’RE NOT. Susan Hill manages the damned near impossible and makes books EXTREMELY boring.
Look, I’m a book nerd. I’ve got a TBR pile made up of 50 or so print and ebooks, and I love to go book shopping. I love books in all genres, and I love reading so much, I’ve perused the ingredient list on a fucking shampoo bottle. You’d think I could relate to another book nerd, but this guy is SO BORING. Every description of locations, every scene, he’s sure to find the dullest way possible to describe it. And the way the narrator writes is so quaint, I kept getting thrown off by references to email because my mind kept putting the character back in the 1940s.
By chapter 11, the ghost apparently gets tired of waiting for Adam to come back to the garden and investigate like normal characters would, and the ghost tries to kill Adam; first by trying to pull him over the side of a cliff, and then by trying to drown him. Most normal people would be terrified. Most normal people would begin to investigate this and fuck their job. Not our nerdy boy Adam. NO! Mere hours after the second attempt on his life, he’s gleefully gawking at a Shakespeare first folio and admiring the library. The ghost doesn’t matter at all, because BOOKS. No, my suspension of disbelief just plunged off the same cliff that the ghost tried to throw Adam over.
At this point, I gave up. I really can’t recall the last book I read that was so boring, I wanted the main character to drop dead, because then at least something happened. NOTHING happens in this book. This is so boring, I want to kill myself and haunt the publisher, the acquiring editor, the agent, and the author. But if I did that, Susan Hill might find a way to turn it into a story, and I’m sure it would be just as dull as this book
I give The Small Hand one star, and I recommend it to people who’d like to attempt suicide by boredom. I’d rather reread The Hunger Games twice than sit through the rest of this god-awful snooze-fest.