We Have Always Lived in the Castle
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This is a chillingly terrifying story that has nothing to do with the things that go BUMP in the night. No, it's the odd terror that comes when things go BUMP in the mind. And the most terrifying things are those that are left unsaid, that creep up at you from behind the printed lines, just h ...more
"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone ...more
One of the many, many fascinating things about this book is the way it could have been approached in a completely different way. It could have opened with someone - a stranger to the village, most l ...more
This is the brillia ...more
Yes, the residents of this house are different, especially the true murderer. But do they deserve what happens to them? And is their visitor any less a villain just ...more
There is almost no yoke or limit which I would place on my praise for it. And yet: almost no one I meet is familiar with this tale. I never see it reviewed ...more
Shirley Jackson wrote the short story "The Lottery," which is about a creepy small town. This follows in that tradition. It's about the Blackwells-- Mary Katherine, who is 18 but reads 12 to me, Constance, who is an adult but reads 18, and frail old Uncle Julian. And Jonas the cat. Six years before the book opens, the rest of the Blackwells were murdered at the dinner table. Now Mary Katherine (aka Merricat), Constance, and Uncle Jul ...more
My name is Mary Katherine Blackstone. I am eighteen years old, and I like my sister Constance and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cap mushroom ...more
Just another homicidal paranoid-schizophrenic proto-hippy 18 year old girl-child who lives with her older agoraphobic/social-phobic sister and dementia-sufferer wheelchair-bound uncle in an isolated house in the aftermath of a dreadful family tragedy whereby all of the family except these three were poisoned to death in that very house. It’s not an uncommon situation. I know three similar cases here in Nottingham, and I could have told Cousin Charles Blackwood, who turns up crudely attempting to ...more
I had previously read Jackson's "The Lottery," which would make my list of best short stories, so I was prepared for dark atmosphere and tension in "We Have Always Lived in the Castle." The short novel opens with 18-year-old Mary Katherine Blackwood (nicknamed Merricat) describing her trip to the village to get groceries ...more
I have found that this works very well in narrative fiction too. If the first paragraph is sufficiently interesting, the reader continues long enough to get pulled into the story. While this is not essential, many great ...more
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is not a scary story or even all that creepy. What it is instead, without a doubt, is an unsettling tale of devolution. Here is how an exceedingly strange, publicly shunned family living in an old house (view spoiler)[devolves into the stuff of town legend: those scary people dwelling in that spooky, boarded-up, fire-ravaged house on the outskirts of town (“You can’t go on those steps,” the children warned each other; ...more
Ahhhhhh, so that’s why one daughter is never, ever, under any circumstances, to be punished for anything.
Plot driven drama with moments of humor, pacing that picks up and runs, seemingly everything resolved, one that deserves that critique of ‘well-crafted.’
Not one to read about, so not one to write much about. Better, instead, to just read it; that won’t take you all that much longer to read.
Really, more like 4.5 stars; it's that good.
Absolutely DELICIOUS. This book has been showing up on “must read” lists for eons and yet I’ve always managed to avoid it. While some classics just make me sad because they don’t live up to the hype, this was not the case with We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Over 50 years old and completely transcends time. Jackson is brilliant.
Added bonus - ju ...more
The most effective horror stories for me are not the ones about vampires or werewolves or even about demented guys chasing you with chainsaws. No, what really disturbs me are the histories without minimal supernatural elements, where the danger comes from the regular people around you, from neighbors and relatives and strangers knocking at your door after midnight. I used to give as typical example Connie Willis and her "Winds of Marble Arch", an evocation of the atrocities of the Blitz in Londo ...more
I don’t want to give too much away because this is one of those c ...more
I felt this book had too much falling action. That's it. Nothing else negative to say about this one. Every other aspect of this book I found to be absolutely delightful. This will easily find itself at the top of my 'Best of 2014' list and in my list of all-time favorite novels (if I had one written out somewhere).
This--not The Haunting o ...more
Usually I'm not at a loss for words in a review....
My friend Kinga decided it would be great fun if we recommended a favourite book to each other.
Despite the fact we don't have a lot of books in common I love reading Kinga's reviews regardless of the genre. She has quite the way with words and I think she's the coolest person, which is why I forgive her so easily for inflicting this weird little number on me.
And I warn you beforehand that I will be using the word weird and synonyms ...more
The Book Report: A classic of American suspense literature, this is the story of the Blackwood family, told by Mary Katherine "Merricat", of her life with elder sister Constance and elderly uncle Julian. They live in the biggest, grandest house around their New England village, surrounded by villagers whose suspicions of them are well-founded: Constance and Julian are survivors of a mass murder, a poisoning of the entire Blackwood family, for which crime Constance was tried a ...more
Something very wrong here. Something twisted and broken. Was the whole family broken or just Merricat?? Something fragile. Something dark. Something very 'off.' I was not sure where the author was taking me, but I couldn't wait to get there.
Tortured souls, not knowing how to live. Living inside a make-believe world of their own creation. Was Merricat schizophrenic? At times, I think she was. Sociopathic; oohh yes, buddy. Most certainly, even in one so young. (vi ...more
Shirley Jackson is really great at taking benign, innocent scenes and turning them on their head (see also: THE LOTTERY). She pulls it off again in this awesome book that clearly would have been a YA sensation had she published it in the modern day.
It’s so good, you guys.
There are cats and brand new relatives and class conflict and everyone being poisoned to death!
I just read WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE and found myself living in the mind of the narrator for day ...more
As usual, Shirley Jackson's prose is out of this world. But not only is her prose fabulous, the way she tells this story puts her miles above most horror authors working today.
This tale is about the Blackwoods; a family living an isolated life outside a typical small town. The Blackwood family has been decimated by a tragedy which leaves only two sisters, Constance and Mary Catherine, living alone with their disabled uncle Julian.
That is all I will s ...more
Oh no, said Merricat, you'll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!
The chants of the children followed Mary Katherine (Merricat) everywhere as she makes her twice weekly excursions into the village. Mary Katherine, Constance, and uncle Julian were ostracized by the town folks when the wealthy Blackwood family gained notoriety after the deaths of several Blackwood family members by arsen ...more
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She is best known for her dystopian short story, "The Lottery" (1948), which suggests there is a deeply unsettling underside to bucolic, smalltown Ameri ...more