Review: The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill

Author: Susan Hill
Title: The Man in the Picture
Format/Source: Hardcover/library
Published: October 2007
Publisher: Profile Books
Length: 145 pages
Genre: Gothic ghost story
Why I Read: Enjoyed The Woman in Black ; in the mood for a similar story
Read If You’re: Looking for a quick and easy, chilling (if not frightening) read
Quote: “I disliked the picture – it repelled me, made me shudder. But it was just a picture. We could hang it in some distant corner of our house, or even leave it wrapped and put it away” (78).
Rating: ★★★ [ratings guide]
Links: GoodReads | Chapters | Amazon

Please note: This review contains comparison to The Woman In Black and some vague spoilers for both books.

I did not find The Man in the Picture as frightening as the Woman in Black. There was only one chapter (Chapter 4) that really spooked me, and that was because I was so caught up in thoughts of what might happen next. I suppose that is the definition of suspense! But, scenes from The Woman in Black made my skin tingle because of what actually happened in the story, and not potential scenarios I concocted in my own mind. Although I did not experience much fear, I found the idea of being trapped in the painting uncomfortable and horrific.

I anticipated a similar ending to The Woman in Black. Of course, once I read the ending I thought “Oh, how did I not predict that earlier!” Perhaps I would have guessed the conclusion had I put some thought towards it, but a well-written story allows me to become totally absorbed so my mind does not move ahead of what’s happening on the page in front of it. Hill handles the shift in perspective very well. I did not anticipate such a shift and it fits with the mood of the story.

The Bottom Line: I’ve been working on this review for days because I could not think of what to write. Really, all you need to know is that this is a quick read, nothing too developed or in-debth, a nice little ghost story that will not wow you unexpectedly. The story has a chilling sombre tone. The Man in the Picture may not frighten you but it may unsettle you.