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review 2018-07-03 14:51
The Small Hand-Not Scary
The Small Hand - Susan Hill

Honestly I am annoyed that I didn't just wait for this via the library, but since my house is empty of furniture and my bookshelves are wrapped up, I don't want to have a pile of books just sitting around from the library. "The Small Hand" starts off very well and then flounders from there to a very disappointing and confusing ending. I was left with way more questions than answers and kept trying to see if any reviewers had any insight into this book. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any explanations out there regarding the ending, so maybe I will post on Goodreads and see what people say.

 

An antiquarian book seller named Adam Snow ends up getting lost and finds an abandoned home. Once called the White House, it was famous far and wide for the gardens that the owner had installed. Adam stumbles around and realizes as he is there, that a small cold hand takes his own. Only problem is that there is no one there.  After taking hold of the small hand, Adam is in essence haunted. He starts to find out drips and drabs about the White House and a tragic accident that takes place there. 

 

I don't know. Adam was intriguing, but Hill doesn't do enough to develop him. I was most disappointed that Hill spends time on Adam looking into a rare book that a friend of his tells him about. We spend way too much time on that than on Adam having a panic attack that almost leads to him drowning himself. 

 

I felt the most frustrated though when Adam realizes a slim connection to White House and doesn't pursue it. 


When we get to the ending and the reveal it just fell flat. I had a lot of questions and wanted to know the why behind some things. 

 

If you really want to read this, suggest getting it at a library, not worth buying it via Kindle or Nook. 

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text 2015-09-06 15:54
“The Small Hand” and “Anna Dressed In Blood” and what I really want from ghost stories
Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake
The Small Hand - Susan Hill

I read a lot of fiction about ghosts and vampires and various supernatural creatures. These days, they're virtually a mainstream choice so it's been a while since I stopped and asked myself what I really want from stories like these.

 

The question only occurred to me because of the contrast between the two most recent ghost story novels that I read: "The Small Hand" would probably be seen as literary fiction given that it was written by Susan Hill who was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to literature; "Anna Dressed in Blood" would typically be found in the "Young Adult" section of the bookshop and was written by new(ish) author Kendare Blake who's first novel "Sleepwalk Society" was shortlisted for the 2011 Indie Excellence Finalist in the Crossover Fiction category and won the Sponsor's Choice Award and who is now writing a series of "Anna" books for Tor.

 

Although "The Small Hand" was published in 2010 and has a contemporary setting, it has the feel of something from another time. Perhaps because of this, the novel never quite made contact with my emotions of my imagination.

 

It is a slight tale of deep dread instilled by an encounter with a supernatural "small hand" that pulls the man it touches towards terror and panic.

 

The pace of the disclosure and the sensibility of Adam Snow, the main protagonist, are reminiscent of Wilie Collins' "The Woman In White", innovative and gripping in 1859 but received differently today.

 

"The Small Hand" is filled with foreboding and the sense of some foul deed from the past rippling through present, demanding an accounting. If this appeals to you (as it seemed to appeal to most of the posh press reviewers) then you will find this book well written and plotted with the same sense of inevitability that you find in an M R James story like "Casting The Runes"

 

Yet, as the story unfolded, I found that I could not connect. Adam Snow seemed naive and weak and too out of touch with the century he inhabits to be interesting enough for me to care about. The terror described produced in me a "For God's sake, pull yourself together and take charge." response that I'm not sure the author was looking for.

 

The ending of the novel is sad, believable and skillfully evokes grief but it still left me irritated at Adam Snow as passive victim.

 

I recognize that some of this may well be Susan Hill's intent. The "small hand" of the title is perhaps a metaphor for the tug of conscience and guilt, the ghosts of our past that try to steer our future. It's a good idea, but one that, for me, needed to rooted to the present day and affecting someone I could empathize with, neither of which "The Small Hand" delivered.

 

"Anna Dressed in Blood", a "Young Adult" fiction best-seller that took me on a very different journey.

 

Our teen hero, Cas Lowood, lays ghosts in a very physical way, with an athame (I love it when an author has the courage to use the right word for something, even when she knows that most of us will have to go and look it up) that he inherited from his father.

 

This book assumes that we all swim confidently in the currents of pop culture and that our reaction to the strange and the supernatural will be shaped by our knowledge of "Bufffy" and "Scooby Doo" and the every classic horror movie ever made. Yet the strength of the book comes from its refusal to let clichés define its reality. It is Cas Lowood's gift to see what others do not and has the courage and the sense of duty to act on what he sees.

 

When he meets Anna for the first time, dressed in the blood that covered her in death, he knows that he has met something both powerful and deadly but he cannot accept it as monstrous. He insists on seeing both Anna and his High School companions as accurately as he can. It is only himself that he has difficulty gaining insight into.

 

The story takes Cas and Anna on an emotional journey to understand the forces that have compelled each of them to become who and what they are but which shows them that they can still choose what happens next.

 

This is a slick, action-packed, graphically violent, novel with "Blockbuster Movie" written all over it, yet the most memorable aspect of the book is not the horror wrought and the blood spilt but the bonds forged between the weak and the frightened to push back the dark.

 

Together, these two books demonstrate different horror story paradigms: in "The Small Hand" fear is presented as disempowering and the past as inescapable whereas "Anna Dressed In Blood"sees fear as something to be fought and the future as something we have to win the right to.

 

The "Anna Dressed In Blood" paradigm embodies what I'm looking for from a horror story. "The Small Hand" paradigm feels like something from another, less grown-up era that fails to resonate with me.

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review 2014-10-26 00:00
The Small Hand
The Small Hand - Susan Hill After browsing through the shelves at my local library I spotted this book and knew I recognised the author's name...the brilliant author who wrote The Woman in Black (which I read quite recently and very much enjoyed) so I thought I would pick this one up.
The Small Hand is a nice, enjoyable ghost story which unfortunately lacked a certain chill, I did not find it to be scary in any way and I found that perhaps I was somewhat spoilt by the rollercoaster of The Woman in Black. I got a bit bored part way through with the constant diversions and the lack of depth, I wanted more meat that was sadly missing from this short book, this made it feel rushed or if there were pages missing.
I would still say that if you enjoy ghost stories please do give this one a read, it's not bad but in my opinion it just wasn't that great either.
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review 2014-10-06 22:22
"The Small Hand" and "Anna Dressed In Blood" and what I really want from ghost stories

 

 

 

 

I read a lot of fiction about ghosts and vampires and various supernatural creatures. These days, they're virtually a mainstream choice so it's been a while since I stopped and asked myself what I really want from stories like these. The questions only occurred to me because of the contrast between the two most recent ghost story novels that I read: "The Small Hand" would probably be seen as literary fiction given that it was written by Susan Hill who was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to literature; "Anna Dressed in Blood" would typically be found in the "Young Adult" section of the bookshop and was written by new(ish) author Kendare Blake who's first novel "Sleepwalk Society" was shortlisted for the 2011 Indie Excellence Finalist in the Crossover Fiction category and won the Sponsor's Choice Award and who is now writing a series of "Anna" books for Tor.

 

Although "The Small Hand" was published in 2010 and has a contemporary setting, it has the feel of something from another time. Perhaps because of this, the novel never quite made contact with my emotions of my imagination.

 

It is a slight tale of deep dread instilled by an encounter with a supernatural "small hand" that pulls the man it touches towards terror and panic.

 

The pace of the disclosure and the sensibility of Adam Snow, the main protagonist, are reminiscent of Wilie Collins' "The Woman In White", innovative and gripping in 1859 but received differently today.

 

Filled with foreboding and the sense of some foul deed from the past rippling through present, demanding an accounting.

 

If this appeals to you (as it seemed to appeal to most of the posh press reviewers) then you will find this book well written and plotted with the same sense of inevitability that you find in an M R James story like "Casting The Runes".

 

Yet, as the story unfolded, I found that I could not connect. Adam Snow seemed naive and weak and too out of touch with the century he inhabits to be interesting enough for me to care about. The terror described produced in me a "For God's sake, pull yourself together and take charge." response that I'm not sure the author was looking for.

 

The ending of the novel is sad, believable and skillfully evokes grief but it still left me irritated at Adam Snow as passive victim.

 

I recognize that some of this may well be Susan Hill's intent. The "small hand" of the title is perhaps a metaphor for the tug of conscience and guilt, the ghosts of our past that try to steer our future. It's a good idea, but one that, for me, needed to rooted to the present day and affecting someone I could empathize with, neither of which "The Small Hand" delivered.

 

"Anna Dressed in Blood", a "Young Adult" fiction best-seller that took me on a very different journey.

 

Our teen hero, Cas Lowood lays ghosts in a very physical way, with an athame (I lovc it when an author has the courage to use the right word for something, even when she knows that most of us will have to go and look it up) that he inherited from his father.

This book assumes that we all swim confidently in the currents of pop culture and that our reaction to the strange and the supernatural will be shaped by our knowledge of "Bufffy" and "Scooby Doo" and the every classic horror movie ever made. Yet the strength of the book comes from its refusal to let clichés define its reality. It is Cas Lowood's gift to see what others do not and has the courage and the sense of duty to act on what he sees.

 

When he meets Anna for the first time, dressed in the blood that covered her in death, he knows that he has met something both powerful and deadly but he cannot accept it as monstrous. He insists on seeing both Anna and his High School companions as accurately as he can. It is only himself that he has difficulty gaining insight into.

 

The story takes Cas and Anna on an emotional journey to understand the forces that have compelled each of them to become who and what they are but which shows them that they can still choose what happens next.

 

This is a slick, action-packed, graphically violent, novel with "Blockbuster Movie" written all over it, yet the most memorable aspect of the book is not the horror wrought and the blood spilt but the bonds forged between the weak and the frightened to push back the dark.

 

Together, these two books demonstrate different horror story paradigms: in "The Small Hand" fear is presented as disempowering and the past as inescapable whereas "Anna Dressed In Blood"sees fear as something to be fought and the future as something we have to win the right to.

 

The "Anna Dressed In Blood" paradigm embodies what I'm looking for from a horror story. "The Small Hand" paradigm feels like something from another, less grown-up era that fails to resonate with me.

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review 2013-11-04 14:30
The Small Hand
The Small Hand - Susan Hill

I don't want to go into spoiler territory, which is hard to avoid in a ghost story. I will just say that even though the story is firmly set in the present with modern technology, it could, very easily, have been a work of E. F. Benson: there's a single adult chap and ominous country house.

 

Good post-Halloween creepy read.

 

Library copy.

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