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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  27,187 ratings  ·  3,545 reviews
Author Shirley Jackson has thrilled fans of horror and intrigue for decades with her superbly crafted stories and has even inspired such authors as Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. This classic tale of gothic horror is sure to delight readers everywhere and has been optioned for a film.

Six years after four family members died of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoo
Audio CD, 4 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1962)
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Bizarre, strange, haunting, sinister, disturbing, twisted, foreboding, suffocatingly claustrophobic, leaving you with the ever-growing sense of unease. What else can I say about this book to give it justice?

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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I’m just going to come right out and say it: Shirley Jackson knows how to tell a story. Though she may be best known for her work in the psychological suspense genre, I’m pretty convinced she was not limited by this label, nor would she have been by any other, and this work would most likely fall into the “other” category. But there’s no reason to take my word for it; even Oliver (view spoiler) found himself drawn to her work, enthralled by her words, and taken in by her char ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Oct 25, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of suspense with gothic overtones
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Feliks Drzerzhinsky
Just plain creepy and oozing atmosphere. I won’t say much, went in cold and so should you. Not horror, no gore or monsters, it’s better than that. We’re talking the frailties of the human mind - MADNESS! We outgrow our fear of creatures that go bump in the night; so immured by the constant bombardment of blood & guts on TV that we can barely work up the energy to cringe anymore – but the fear of losing your mind? Now that one niggles, I know I have my bad days. So yeah, stories like this wo ...more
What a cute little book!! Just listen to this:

"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
In The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson's group of misguided investigators discuss the idea that some houses are inherently born evil, and are destined to be haunted from the moment they're built. We Have Always Lived in the Castle explores the opposite idea: how a home becomes a haunted house.

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
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 else in our family is dead.

This is the brillia
Hands down--one of my all-time favorite books. No, it's not a horror or thriller in the contemporary sense, but just like her short story "The Lottery" this book exudes the "horror" of mass hysteria in its climactic scene. What does it take to make us stop being civilized, even for a moment, and do awful things to other human beings?

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
This obscure novel of dread & suspense by distinguished author Shirley Jackson is not only my favorite work of the entire genre of supernatural writing; it is my #1 favorite title by any female author. It is my #1 favorite work of xxxx C. American fiction. It is even, my second favorite fiction book of the entire Twentieth century. Period.

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
This is my favorite book of all time, hands down, case closed.

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
Nov 02, 2013 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: florence mcintosh
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this psychological thriller from 1962, but I was pleasantly surprised how the true circumstances behind the lives of two sisters slowly become chillingly revealed. It’s the kind of book that draws you in and compels you to read it in a couple of sittings. My attention was riveted from the first line:

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
Paul Bryant

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
Sh3lly (Not all those who wander are lost)
Oh dear. I guess this one just wasn't my thing. I couldn't get into the characters or plot, and really, it was all vague and overly "mysterious" to a degree I found irritating and... oh boy, I'm going to say it. Boring. I know it's a classic, and it must mean I'm just too dumb to "get it."

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)
Nandakishore Varma
When they teach you public speaking, there is a concept called "ho-hum". This is a brief statement at the very starting point of the speech, sufficiently interesting so that the audience will immediately sit up and take notice. It is the "hook" with which the speaker snares them.

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
Diane Librarian
Reading Shirley Jackson stories would make one scared to live in New England -- the villagers there are cruel, ready to riot and will pounce on you the moment you are vulnerable.

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

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)
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
The story of the remaining members of the Blackwood family and the history behind how they came to be the only residents living in a sprawling estate.

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
I might be the only person in the world who thinks this book is too weird, senseless, anticlimactic and almost plotless. The characters however are charismatic in their craziness. It's just not my type of crazy.
Like chainsmokers and alcoholics, most reading addicts - the sort of people who are unable to leave the house, ride the bus, or take a bath without a book in their hand - started the habit early in life. Mention Maniac Magee around me, for instance, and watch me tear up. You could chalk this up to nostalgia, I guess, but I think there's something else going on here; the really great children's books (young adult books?), or the really great books that are about children strike at the heart of so ...more
Mike Puma

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.


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
Aug 07, 2012 Jill rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: Kinga
Shelves: kinga-forced-me

2.5 stars

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
Bark's Book Nonsense
I listened to this classic Shirley Jackson story in its unabridged audiobook format and the narrator did a terrific job bringing the story of Merricat and the remaining members of her family to life, her voice drips with atmosphere of the gothic drama. If you’re an audiobook fan and appreciate a dread-filled slightly creepy family drama I highly recommend checking this one out. I downloaded my copy from local library via Overdrive.

I don’t want to give too much away because this is one of those c
What a creepy story! My first Shirley Jackson book and I was really impressed by the way she held my attention from the first page.I enjoyed the dark tone of the book. In general, it was very unsettling but I didn't want to stop reading it.
Gregor Xane
Note to readers: Don't read the Introduction by Jonathan Lethem until after you've finished the novel. Like many introductions, it completely spoils the novel.

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
I started out reading this but quickly switched to the audio version which I highly recommend. The narrator’s voice made this very strange, twisted, whimsical and haunting story come alive. Her whisper-like tone added much emphasis to the spooky and gothic atmosphere. It is probably best going in unknowing, but the eerie looking cover gives hints at the darkness and creepiness of the story, that was at times humorous and always engaging. It contains some of the most interesting and eccentric cha ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

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
Oct 24, 2013 Charlene rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of gothic horror stories
Recommended to Charlene by: Tressa Fancher
I listened to the audio version of this tale.

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
Chiara Pagliochini
«Merricat, disse Connie, tè e biscotti: presto, vieni. Fossi matta, sorellina, se ci vengo m’avveleni».

Ho iniziato e terminato questo libro durante un viaggio in treno e devo dire che si è rivelato un’ottima compagnia. Sapevo che la Jackson è una delle fonti di ispirazione di Stephen King e che, quindi, mi sarei trovata a leggere una storia in bilico tra horror e giallo. In realtà (come nel caso di King) ho trovato molto di più.
Abbiamo sempre vissuto nel castello è la storia dell’amore tra due
Mar 24, 2013 Alondra rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
I will keep this short and sweet;

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
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Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.

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 about Shirley Jackson...
The Lottery and Other Stories The Haunting of Hill House The Lottery Life Among the Savages The Lottery and Other Stories; The Haunting of Hill House; We Have Always Lived in the Castle

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“A pretty sight, a lady with a book.” 347 likes
“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 else in our family is dead.” 149 likes
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