Arthur Kipps is a young London lawyer sent to Crythin Gifford, a small town far from the comfort and familiarity of London, to attend the funeral of a long-time client of his firm. Mystery surrounds the family and the ancestral house and lands, so much so that the locals will speak nothing of it and seem to pity Arthur's assignment. Before long, Arthur is besieged by terrifying images and sounds, and a mysterious woman in black, old-fashioned clothing seems to be stalking him.
Crythin Gifford, picturesque with flat lands and salt marshes, is not as welcoming as the brash young lawyer expects. When explaining to those he encounters that he must spend time at Eel Marsh House, the home of his deceased client, Mrs. Alice Drablow, to sort her files, he receives little more than pained silences and shocked expressions. He brushes his feelings of uneasiness aside as local tales and makes arrangements to spend a few nights at the house.
I don't think that I took a breath throughout the entire second half of the novel. Hill writes so descriptively and beautifully, and that style continued as she painted a haunting tale of madness, allowing the reader to be swept away to Godforsaken Crythin Gifford. The characters are developed and interesting, and the story never falters. The final twist was not altogether a surprise, but it was definitely a shock. A wonderful, proper ghost story.