The Woman in Black – she of the pale, wasted face and proclivity for terrifying hauntings – is set to wander the grounds of Eel Marsh House once again in a new novel out later this year, and author Martyn Waites is promising it will be even scarier than Susan Hill‘s original.
First published in 1983, Hill’s short novel The Woman in Black has been an enduring bestseller ever since, giving rise both to a popular stage play and to last year’s film starring Daniel Radcliffe. It tells of a young lawyer summoned to attend the funeral of the old woman who lives in Eel Marsh House, a building on the east coast of England which is entirely cut off from the mainland at high tide and which appears to be haunted by the ghost of a black-clad young woman. “She was suffering from some terrible wasting disease, for not only was she extremely pale, even more than a contrast with the blackness of her garments could account for, but the skin and, it seemed, only the thinnest layer of flesh was tautly stretched and strained across her bones, so that it gleamed with a curious, blue-white sheen, and her eyes seemed sunken back into her head,” writes Hill.
Thirty years later, Hammer Books, an imprint of Random House, has signed up crime writer Martyn Waites to write a new Woman in Black novel. Set during the Blitz – around 40 years after the original – The Woman in Black: Angel of Death will see a group of schoolchildren and their teacher evacuated to Eel Marsh House from London, “where of course the Woman in Black is waiting for them”, said the publisher.
The story is based on an original idea by Hill herself, said Hammer publisher Selina Walker. The idea was then developed by screenwriter Jon Croker – it is also due to bemade into a film by Hammer films – with Waites approached by the publisher to turn it into a novel.
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