The Small Hand (A Ghost Story)
I’ve always been a fan of horror, and there are many books in the genre that I love- though not always for the same reasons. There are very few, however, that have lingered in my mind quite as long as Susan Hill’s ‘The Small Hand.’
Without giving away any spoilers, ‘The Small Hand’ is about a book seller who gets lost while driving home from a client’s house, and ends up discovering an old country estate. He goes into the garden to take a look at it, and while standing there, feels the sensation of a child taking hold of his hand. Unsettled by the incident, he resolves to find out more about the place, but the more he learns, the more sinister his experience seems and the more the ‘small hand’ begins to invade his life.
Despite it being published in 2010, I only read ‘The Small Hand’ a few years ago. Like many students, I was required to read ‘The Woman in Black’ while at school, and for a long time it was the book that I recommended when people asked me about ghost stories. Because of that, I decided to look into more of Hill’s work, and ‘The Small Hand’ was the first book I picked up. Everything that made ‘The Woman in Black’ terrifying is, in my opinion, amplified in ‘The Small Hand’. The first few pages had me hooked at once, describing the main character’s unsettling experience in such a masterful way that it almost seemed mundane until I put the book down, and found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. As the story goes on, the sense of unease increases dramatically, but never quite tips over into the ridiculous- something that is quite a feat, given some of the events in later chapters. But most of all, it was a book that I had to keep reading, not just because I wanted to know what happened, but because I truly felt that if I knew how the story ended it would stop playing on my mind when the book wasn’t in my hands. This is not a story like ‘The Ring’ that suggests anybody could fall under the influence of an evil spirit, but Hill’s writing has a way of making her protagonists so relatable that you feel as if you are being carried along with them- that their fate might also be your fate, even though you are safely outside the book, rather than trapped within it.
What really sets ‘The Small Hand’ apart for me, however, is how it has literally stuck with me since I read it. I put my hands in my pockets a lot more now, because on some level I am always just waiting to feel that ghostly little hand, pressing itself into mine.
S R Jones is a writer of science fiction and fantasy. Born in London, he was raised on the Welsh borders and transitioned in early 2005. He is now settled in the Midlands, and shares his living space with four corn snakes, to whom he reads all his work prior to publication. So far, none of the snakes have left any reviews, so it’s impossible to know whether or not they appreciate this.
S R’s first novel, ‘Death’s White Hands’ was released in 2018 is available on both Amazon and Smashwords.
You can find out more about S.R. by visiting their official website www.aegisimmemorial.com
Follow S.R. on Twitter @AegisImmemorial
Death’s White Hand
The iylmin people cower beneath eternally clouded skies, living in fear of shards of dark stone that hurtle down from on high. These are the Falls, and each one bears the seeds of madness and death. The nightmare creatures born from these poisoned rocks would devour anyone that crosses their path- but not every iylmin they chase is willing to be their prey.
Under the endless grey, a traveller moves from city to city, wandering the lonely country paths between sparse pockets of civilisation, hunting the unclean things born from the cursed heavens. She is Danika Echo, known as Dan, drawn from her home in the south by a wanderlust that she cannot explain, and tormented by nightmares of a death that was not her own.
When Dan’s employer is murdered by a succubus, Dan takes it upon herself to seek revenge. Accompanied by the cursed priest Whitveil, she must fight her way through the rugged wilds of the north and reach her prey before it has a chance to breed, for the offspring of a succubus could bring untold ruin upon the iylmin people. But there may be greater dangers at hand, and Dan must face her own demons, as well as those born of fire and rock, if she is to succeed.
Death’s White Hands is an episodic novel of horror and adventure.