The Small Hand by Susan Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love a good old-fashioned ghost story, and so, it seems, does Susan Hill, as I believe this is the fourth one that she's written.
I think I've read the other three, but it was some time ago - they might all be due a re-read in the not too distant future.
Anyway, this book tells the story of Adam Snow, an antiquarian book dealer, who takes a wrong turn one evening and stumbles across a derelict Edwardian house. Unable to resist, he wanders into the overgrown garden, and as he stands there, he feels the unmistakable sensation of a small hand creeping into his own. However, he is completely alone....
The language and writing style made me think that this story was perhaps set in the late 19th/early 20th century, certainly 'in the past', so I was surprised at the first mention of email! Other reviewers have said that this kind of ghost story doesn't quite work in the modern age, and I can kind of understand that.
However, I still really enjoyed it, and I finished it the day after I'd started it (although it is only a short book). I like my ghost stories to leave a lot to my imagination, to have a kind of "less is more" approach - "the fear of fear itself". The sensation of a child's hand creeping into your own when you are completely alone is far more chilling than looking down and actually seeing a ghost there.
So yes, maybe not the best ghost story I've ever read*, but certainly not the worst.
*I still think the best one so far is Dark Matter by Michelle Paver.
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