The Small Hand

Susan Hill

First Sentence:    It was a little before nine o’clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud and I had lost my way.

This book grabbed my attention straight away. As soon as I picked it up, felt the lovely embossed cover and read the back of the book, I knew I’d have to read it. It’s not the type of book I usually go for but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless. As it says on the cover, this is a ghost story, and I must admit there were some genuinely eerie moments peppered throughout the book. The only thing is, the part that got me hooked initially, the part that is reproduced on the back cover, is probably the eeriest of them all and so after reading that snippet I was expecting even creepier bits, but really, it just provided some similar situations in different locations as the narrative progressed. I also found the ending to be a tad too predictable. All in all though a good quick read if you’re feeling halloweeny. The part that reeled me in is:

I stood in the dim green-lit clearing and above my head a silver paring of moon cradled the evening star. The birds had fallen silent. There was not the slightest stirring of the air. And as I stood I felt a small hand creep into my right one, as if a child had come up beside me in the dimness and taken hold of it…

So I guess if that snippet does nothing for you it’s probably best to avoid this one. If it does appeal however, this is a pleasantly chilling tale for an autumnal evening.

* * *

Last Sentence: The last hand that other small hand will take hold of will be mine.

With my love.


Last Sentence explained: Adam Snow is an antiquarian bookseller who lost his way on a country road at the beginning of the book. He comes across the desolate ‘White House’ where he encounters the small hand for the first time. He then proceeds to get on with his everyday life, primarily concerned with locating a first folio Shakespeare for a client in a French monastery, all the while being followed by the small hand which is constantly trying to pull him to water. Adam eventually learns from his brother Hugo that the ‘White House’, which he seemingly stumbled upon that evening, was in fact a place where the two brothers went to as small children. A place where Hugo pushed the owners two-year old grandson into a lily pond, resulting in the toddler’s death. It is around this time that the small hand stops pursuing Adam and, presumably, moves on to Hugo. At the end of the book when Hugo himself drowns it is not fully clear if he did it himself or if the small hand played a part. Something Hugo’s final letter to Adam does not make any clearer.


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