The Woman in Black: Angel of Death By Martyn Waites

    Martyn Waites ¼ 7 SUMMARY

    The fully authorised chilling sequel to Susan Hill's bestselling ghost-story, The Woman in Black, released in 2012 as a film featuring Daniel Radcliffe. This is the book the follow-up film starring Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) and Phoebe Fox is based on.

    Autumn 1940, World War Two. Bombs are raining down, destroying the cities of Britain.

    The evacuations begin, and soon children are being taken to the country for safety. Teacher Eve Parkins is in charge of one such group. The children are scared and Eve does her best to calm them, but the truth is that she too is haunted by a personal tragedy she cannot put behind her.

    Their destination is Eel Marsh House. Desolate and forlorn, it is situated on a causeway and is sinking into the treacherous tidal marshes that surround it.

    Far from home and with no alternative, Eve and the children move in.

    But soon it becomes apparent that there is someone else in the house with them, someone Eve can't see but who is far more deadly than any number of German bombs ...

    The Woman in Black. The Woman in Black: Angel of Death

    I didn't have high hopes going in. After all, this is a novelisation of the forthcoming movie sequel to Hammer's The Woman in Black, rather than a genuine sequel to the original book by Susan Hill. But as TWIB is one of my favourite books, and the first film was commendable, I had to give it a stab.

    Sadly, the book suffers greatly from novelising a film script. The structure feels as if it is following on screen action shot for shot, instead of producing a narrative that works on the page. I will be very surprised if the film is very different to what I've already experienced on the page. But this also creates further issues. A film can jump from character to character as scenes change - or even within a scene. But it is very jarring in a book. Sometimes, the point of view changes with dizzying speed so that you leap from the mind and thoughts of one person into another within a paragraph. I always thought that was a major novelist faux pas so I was surprised to come across it so blatantly - and jarringly - throughout.

    Also, the book is clearly a sequel to the film version and differs from the original novel in significant ways. This isn't so bad because, as I said before, the film adaptation of TWIB is pretty spiffy (despite the changed ending). But then this new version takes some of these differences even further so that the ghost at the heart of the novel behaves and manifests in ways completely at odds with Hill's original vision. Or at least that's how it seems to me. Here is a ghost that can (as in one scene) be reasoned with. Instead of a supernatural force of nature following clear rules, this ghost seems far too - well, human. Should a malevolent ghost like the eponymous woman in black experience doubt?

    Plus, when the point of view shifts to the ghost, you realise the book has crossed a line the original never would. We're not supposed to relate to this character. It should exist outside of our understanding and rational thought. That is exactly what makes a ghost terrifying . But here, the ghost becomes pantomime villain.

    And naturally for a film novelisation that follows a standard film structure, many events are predictable and genuine suspense is rare.

    Waites also has a writing style that screams for an editor. (Was there one on this?). Too many events are described either passively or in retrospect, instead of placing the reader at the heart of the action. Again, this suggests a literal transcribing of events on the screen (or in the script) but makes for poor prose.

    But more than all this, Waites seems to lack the background in ghost story lore that would have highlighted exactly why this doesn't carry the same power of the original. Hill always said TWIB was inspired by her love of the tales of Henry James, Dickens, M.R. James, etc - the masters of the form. And these suggest very clear rules for how a ghpst story should be told - not a formula, just an understanding of what works. None of these seem to be present here - such as the need for a strong central character around who the events transpire - hence why there is always suspense about what they experience.

    It's a shame, it really is. One can only hope that Hammer decides to not flog this horse any more, or if they do to bring on board someone who truly understands how to structure a genuine Jamesian ghost story. Mystery Thrillers This was a surprising read - the reason I say that is when you look at its pedigree you do stop and wonder. The original Woman in Black was written by Susan Hill by in 1983, she is still very much alive and writing - so why wasn't she involved with this sequel. Then you have a sequel that is commissioned by the publisher - not a good sign considering their motivations are not necessarily those of the author (money?) and then you have the publisher is Hammer Horror - or at least its resurrected sibling (no pun intended), a name linked to films NOT books.
    So all in all - not the most auspicious of starts - but no wait the book was actually very good, home come. Well the secret really lies with this author Martyn Waites. A self confessed Hammer Horror fan. So what - well apart from wanting to give the book his all, if nothing else so he can claim (in his own words) that he has published work with the Hammer name on it, but also because he knows their genre as intimately as anyone, and that shows. The book reads so easily and yet loses none of the atmosphere or tension you would expect in a film. The staging is perfect. The text invokes the same images as the original but now with a modern twist - well one in keeping with its 40s setting. In short I wasnt sure what to make it, especially since the film came out very shortly after the book, well at least it came to my attention around that time.But no the fact you have a well versed fan who knows his craft, he has created a very good book and one worthy to carry its title. Mystery Thrillers Book Review originally published here:

    The Woman in Black: Angel of Death is a sequel to “The Woman in Black”. The main problem? It’s not written by the same author, and you notice it almost right away. While “The Woman in Black” had a great narrative, was quite original back in the day, and offered characters that weren’t more than cardboard figures, here we get quite the opposite.

    The characters are bland, boring, and very stereotypical. There’s nothing new, fresh or original. We have the disturbed protagonist, haunted by a secret in their past, who somehow becomes the target of the haunting. A young, traumatized boy, becomes the pawn of evil. A woman driven mad by despair. A soldier haunted by his past. Everyone has secrets, no one is safe, but everyone is a stereotype. Even the growing love between Eve and the soldier she meets on the train to Eel Marsh House, is a love riddled with stereotypes.

    The writing wasn’t nearly as impressive as in “The Woman in Black”. There was no grain of suspense. The story itself was predictable. The villain – the ghost haunting Eel Marsh House – is a bleak impression of what she was in the original. Here we get a ghost that can be reasoned with, a ghost who defies all logic of ghosts (aren’t they bound by any rules anymore? Apparently not.). We even get scenes from the point of view of the ghost, which makes her a lot less scary than in the original.

    I’m not a fan. The book wasn’t bad, but it pales in comparison to its original. Mystery Thrillers I really wanted to enjoy this book having read the original Susan Hill novel, (and her other books), seen the play twice and even liked the movie. I thought this had a lot of potential - that Eel Marsh House still stands empty and in 1940 it is requestioned to be used for evacuees from London. So the Woman in Black would have a whole school full of children and teachers to haunt, torment, etc. A great set up.

    However it didnt work for me - the suspense wasnt there, Waites just didnt capture the suspense, fear and power of the original novel or even the film. I really wanted to like it and Waites is obviously a great fan of this genre but I just couldnt and didnt.

    He also needs to do some historical research - the RAF DONT have Captains- they have Group Captains but that is quite a Senior rank, they didnt have Halfiax's in 1940. The British didnt have jeeps at this stage in the war wither The Blitz, which is referred too, was 1940-1941, but most evacuations began 1939-1940. The bad winter that is mentioned and that one of the characters has a husband and son in France suggests again that its the winter of 1939-1940. But the mention of the Blitz sounds like a year later.

    This historical confusion wont bother many but it bothered me, a lack of simple research distracted me and affected the story.

    This novel is basically the script of a new film coming out in 2014, I hope the film is better than the novel. Mystery Thrillers I really enjoyed this book, though it scared the hell out of me even reading it in the middle of the day with sunlight streaming through the window. 'Angel of Death' is set in the autumn of 1940. Eve Parkins is a young teacher who accompanies a small group of children along with their headmistress to Eel Marsh House where they will (supposedly) be safer than in London. Once they arrive there we discover the village of Crythin Gifford has been abandoned (hardly surprising!) and once the children reach Eel Marsh House, the Woman in Black returns. And as the old saying goes - 'Whenever she's seen, and whomever by, one thing's certain, a child shall die.'

    I think author Martyn Waites does an excellent job of bringing the Woman in Black story forward to 1940. There's a whole new cast of characters, of course, but the Woman in Black is as terrifying as ever. Waites makes Eel Marsh House every bit as dark and creepy and threatening as it was in Susan Hill's book. There's a definite sense of creeping horror and doom throughout. A great sequel to Hill's masterpiece. Very, very, very creepy. Would NOT read if I was alone in the house at night.
    Mystery Thrillers


    This was better than I thought it would be! I really enjoyed this book and flew through it. The tone matched the previous book really well, even though this one was written by a different author.
    This book was very visual for me, everything that was written I could see and feel very clearly while reading it. If I can get a hold of the movie I think I will give that a go too! Mystery Thrillers Angel of Death, the follow up to Susan Hill’s hugely popular Woman in Black, is, as I understand it, the book version of the screenplay. Set during the evacuation period of the blitz, the action begins quite quickly as a group of young children and their two teachers are sent to take ‘refuge’ in Eel Marsh House.

    The gloomy, foreboding atmosphere kicks in as soon as the doomed group steps off the final train of their journey. For the first half of the book, the spooky goings on are centred on Eve, the younger and softer of the two teachers, and little Edward, who is mourning the recent death of his mother, and so beings a steady stream of haunting scenes that had be reading at breakneck speed.

    The climax had me gasping in a few places and gripping onto the book as I desperately turned the pages. Although it only took my one evening to finish this book, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief revisit to the misty, boggy marshes of Eel Marsh House and, as the ending is left clearly open for a third installment, shall look forward to the next visit.

    Reviewed by Charlotte Foreman on behalf of Mystery Thrillers Decided not to read on the basis of numerous poor reviews. Also, it seems the film version is already in production and will be released next year, so this isn't so much an original story as a novelisation of an existing screenplay. Mystery Thrillers Fantastic, but oh so freaky! Now to build the courage up to try the film! Mystery Thrillers *review written as someone who hasn't read The Woman In Black*

    Thoroughly enjoyed The Woman In Black: Angel of Death. Very tense and highly creepy. Plenty of terror, deep descriptions and macabre occurrences to keep my morbid mind happy. Mystery Thrillers