What the blurb says: “Autumn 1940, World War Two, the Blitz. Bombs are raining down, destroying the cities of Britain. In London, children are being removed from their families and taken to the country for safety. Teach Eve Parkins is in charge of one such group, and her destination is an empty and desolate house that appears to be sinking into the treacherous tidal marshes that surround it.
EEL MARSH HOUSE.
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; someone who is far deadlier than any number of German bombs …
The Woman in Black.”
I’ve long been a fan of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, having read the book and watched the play at the theatre, so I was intrigued to see how Martyn Waites approached the writing of a sequel.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Angel of Death is every bit as chilling, heart-thumping and edge-of-your-seat thrilling as the original.
The central character, Eve Parkins, is a courageous woman. Kind and fiercely protective of the children in her charge, she’s a more approachable teacher than her boss, Mrs Hogg. As they leave London she feels especially protective of one particular child, Edward, who has recently been orphaned.
It’s difficult to go into plot details without spoiling the story for you, but what I can say is that Eel Marsh House is every bit as scary as in the first story. Now it’s rotting, the mould eating away at its structure, decay destroying its contents. This story will have you looking at mould in a whole other way, and watching the shadows in case they start to follow you.
When Eve, Mrs Hogg, and the children arrive at the house bad things start to happen. Edward becomes increasingly distant from Eve, his only solace found in an ancient and mouldy Mr Punch puppet. It isn’t long before Eve realises that they are not the house’s only occupants.
And as for The Woman in Black, well she’s a menacing presence. Watching. Manipulating. Killing.
Given that this is a sequel the presence and identity of the Woman is not a secret from the reader. She has more ‘on the page’ time than in the original book – you see her before the characters do, and because of her history you can guess what she’s thinking and you know what she’s capable of. But Waites still manages to keep the tension high, building the suspense towards a nail-biting, hiding-behind-a-cushion-as-you-read conclusion as The Woman in Black turns what should be a safe haven for the evacuees into a place more horrific than their worst nightmare.
[With thanks to Arrow Books and Hammer for my copy of The Woman in Black: Angel of Death]