The Man in the Picture

Susan Hill
The Man in the Picture Cover

The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story


A difficult novella to review. I was looking forward to reading this as I loved 'The Woman in Black' and I think it's clear that Hill is a competent ghost story writer.

On the positive side I think it is a real page turner and most definitely deserves to be read in one sitting on a cold winters evening by a fire or tucked up in bed. Reading this on the commute does somewhat lessen it's impact.

Many of the tropes of ghost stories I enjoy are here - old manor houses and students visiting old professors in their rooms to hear tales one must get of their chest. There is a definite nod to M.R. James in both the language and tone of the book (and that's not a bad thing). I found it actually quite difficult to place when the events of the book take place which was both disconcerting and intriguing at the same time.

There are chills here and I won't spoil the story but events focus upon a painting with a dark and mysterious history. As events unfold a particular character is introduced and Hill portrays her with such malevolence it leaps from the page.

Unfortunately what keeps it from being great to just good is that there isn't enough here to leave the reader disturbed and unnerved which is exactly what I want from a ghost story. Don't get me wrong - it's good and well worth reading, just not great.