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At the book's opening, Arthur Kipps is celebrating the holidays with his family at their cozy little cottage. This is off to a great start!
But, when his stepchildren start to tell ghost stories, he gets a little strange and storms out.
It turns out that Arthur has a story to tell:
As a young man, he was sent to the town of Crythin Gifford to sort out the affairs of a deceased woman named Alice Drablow.
It's a creepy town with a lot of unfriendly folks, especially this one spooky woman in black who shows up at Alice's funeral.
Weird thing is, no one wants to talk about it.
Also weird: Eel Marsh House, and how it's conveniently cut off by the tide at certain hours of the day, so he could potentially just get stuck there.
Spooky things happen at night, like a rocking chair that moves by itself in the nursery and the continued sound of the pony and trap.
Gradually, Arthur figures out that the woman in black is a ghost: Jennet Humfrye, Mrs. Drablow's sister. Her child died in a terrible accident, so obviously she now haunts the area and foreshadows—or, hey, maybe even causes—the death of children.
No child has died this time, so Arthur feels relieved. He returns to London and life as usual.
He gets married to a woman named Stella and they have a child named Joseph.
One day at the fair, Joseph and Stella go on a pony and trap ride and as they ride off, Arthur sees the woman in black again. When the horse sees her, it gets spooked and Stella and Joseph get into a terrible accident and both die.
Arthur is left alone and bereft and the woman in black has gotten her revenge.
And that is why Arthur Kipps is not a fan of ghost stories. The end.