We Have Always Lived in the Castle
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Constance stirred, and the leaves rustled. "The way…more It says on page 103 that Merricat says "I am going to put death in their food and watch them die."
Constance stirred, and the leaves rustled. "The way you did before?" she asked.
It had never been spoken of between us, not once in six years.
"Yes," I said after a minute, "the way I did before."
Obviously, the reader is supposed to be led to believe it's Constance, then here's the plot twist.(less) (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
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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
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!
A cliche in American horror films is to include children singing a song that is seemingly innocent at first, but gnaws at the nerves with a haunting sadism. We watch children, young and naive, signing and spinning in a corn field bathed by an autumn dusk; the cliche works because it is an image that we welcome through o ...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
"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
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
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
However, there may be a very good reason for that hostility, as we gradually learn...
When the (we suspect) money-grubbing cousin Charles arrives on the scene, the precarious equilibrium that the two sisters have preserv ...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
This is really astoundin ...more
And then it ended. Yup...
The unreliable narrator worked well, and the agoraphobic feel of the piece was certainly established... but I ...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
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
Hollywood Reporter reports that a new adaptation of We Have Always Lived in the Castle is being attempted, this time with Stacie Passon (Concussion, previously) at the helm. Michael Douglas is producing and Sebastian Stan (Captain America) will star as Mary Katherine and Constance's cousin Charles Blackwood. No word yet on what caused Sarah Polley and Mia Wasikowska's production to halt, but every indication is that all participants are still living (thank the gods. ...more
I was expecting more horror and creepiness. I know this was written a long time ago. Maybe I just don't have the "depth" to appreciate subtle horror.
(view spoiler)[Maybe I am so jaded that poisoning your fami ...more
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
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.
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
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I'm not quite sure when I discovered Shirley Jackson. It might have been when I was looking up classic horror stories and came across TheHaunting of Hill House . I decided to buy We Have Always Lived in the Castle after it was Waterstones' Rediscovered Classic.
WHY I Chose to Read It
It was included in my Pick My December Classicpoll and came second to The Hundred and One Dalmatians . It received such high praise that ...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
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
|2016 Reading Chal...: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson||1||9||Jul 25, 2016 03:46AM|
|Reader's Paradise: We Have Always Lived in the Castle - April 2016||159||55||Apr 13, 2016 12:22PM|
|Small isolate town mentality||3||26||Apr 10, 2016 11:07AM|
|Books with these themes||3||40||Mar 23, 2016 10:42PM|
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