‘Alice Baker’ by Susan Hill

This dinky brocade hardback contains just four short stories sure to chill you in the depths of winter. ‘Alice Baker’ is about a stranger struggling to fit in. A new member of staff, the eponymous Alice, creates a sense of unease in an otherwise neat and friendly office of polite people who aren’t quite sure how to respond to this strange, almost unlikeable woman. I love the loneliness of this story. Like all of Susan Hill’s gothic work, there’s an inevitable ghostly element to it, and it follows in the footsteps of ghost-nerd M. R. James, but it also made me think of the desperate sadness of Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen – one of my all-time favourite books about female relationships and weird women.

Published in The Travelling Bag, Profile Books, 2016