The Haunting of Hill House
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Haunting of Hill House

by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  33,900 ratings  ·  2,496 reviews
The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theo...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published November 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1959)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
8th out of 1,115 books — 3,404 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonA Christmas Carol by Charles DickensGhost Story by Peter StraubHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Ghost Stories
2nd out of 618 books — 987 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Stephen
Shirley Jackson, you saucy little devil, where have you been all my life? I never knew she could spread prose like this. This is an impressive bit of work and definitely belongs among the classics of literate horror novels.

Right from the first pitch, you can see that Ms Jackson…Shirl…is smitten with language and she uses it to great effect to create an emotionally charged, disorientating atmosphere with healthy heapings of melodrama. Very gothic in feel and actually reminded me of Wuthering Hei...more
Jason
My mom has always said that an involuntary shudder—a shiver going up your spine, if you will—indicates someone having just walked over your grave. That cold spot you pass through when walking from the living room into the foyer? That’s not a draft of unheated air coming from upstairs (cold air sinks, you’ll recall)—no, that’s a ghost. And the message written in blood on your bathroom mirror this morning? Well, er, let’s just ignore that for the time being. But really, what is our obsession with...more
Keith
Erm. This book was lent to me with the assurance that it was one of the ten-or-so greatest horror novels of all time.

So, just having finished it, I'm already forgetting having read it. The two stars it gets are because, quite literally, "it was ok" -- Jackson has an interesting writing style and an ear for consistent, if not always realistic, quirky dialogue. But the characters spend so much time being weirdly objective about their own fears that when bad stuff happens, I feel sort of...objecti...more
Shawn
Why rehash what the 5 star reviewers say below? Why even engage the lame arguments by the people who didn't enjoy the book (weak ending? unrealistic dialogue!? not enough happens!?! Christ, people, have an imagination! - although I will say this, they don't seem to be teaching kids what an "unreliable narrator" is in school nowadays, as this book is all about Eleanor's weak and self-centered take on her surroundings and how that slowly gets worked over by Hill House - so an unreliable narration...more
Ellie
The plot, of The Haunting of Hill House, is about three people named, Eleanor, Theodora and Luke, who are invited to stay in a supposedly haunted house for the summer to aid a scientist, Dr. Montague, in his pursuit of paranormal investigation. The book started out as a tale about a creepy old haunted house and then turned into a story about a young mentally unstable woman losing her mind.

I was disappointed by this book to be honest. I felt the novel did not live up to its potential and it certa...more
Brad
Rarely have my feelings about a book been so jumbled.

I hated all The Haunting of Hill House's characters so much that I couldn't stand reading the book, yet Shirley Jackson's need to make us hate all the characters in the book, and her success impressed the hell out of me.

But then I wondered if the reason I hated the characters was not genuinely because of the book, but because of the crappy film version from 1999. Jan de Bont's remake, The Haunting, was abysmal, and the performances of its four...more
Charlene
A super scary book with sentences that you want to stop and marvel over.
This is an excellent haunted house story with a psychological aspect.
HIGHLY recommended!

Quote: “I am like a small creature swallowed whole by a monster, she thought, and the monster feels my tiny little movements inside.”

And what I think is the best opening paragraph in all of literature:

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by...more
Sam
Aug 26, 2007 Sam rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody
Shelves: fiction, woodrif2011
The Haunting Of Hill House is so much more than a haunted house story. At it's heart it's a psychological profile of a very troubled woman trying to find a place in the world. I'm sure it's chock full of symbolism, if you're one of them literary nerd types. Symbolism is all well and good, but if it weighs down the story then what's the point? Jackson doesn't spend an excessive amount of time on it - she simply tells the story in short vignettes, leading the reader through scenes of lyrical calm...more
Sam
Jan 09, 2009 Sam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
What are we talking about when we talk about genre fiction? Some people say it's a matter of tropes: a murder weapon, an android army, a haunted house. But a trope is just the shadow of a construction that used to be meaningful, and among the glut of police procedurals and space odysseys, good writers have always been mining the violence, loneliness, and paranoia that hides in the depths of our common forms. For Patricia Highsmith, a murder weapon wasn't just window dressing - it was an expressi...more
Sarah
There are many authors who can evoke a visceral reaction. What distinguishes Shirley Jackson is her thorough understanding of those reactions. This is not just a horror story but very much a study of the horror genre as well as of the human psyche.

This book speaks to a profound alienation, the kind you have to be very alone, very afraid, and very angry for a very long time to truly understand. I know this protagonist. I know this place and just how easy it is to succumb to it. If you want to kno...more
Anne
I was once so in love with Shirley Jackson that I declared I'd marry the man who could identify the source of this passage:

"Don't do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup
of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone
else you will never see your cup of stars again"

Thank goodness this didn't happen (this was before search engines, by the way), but I'll hold to the opinion that Shirley Jackson is one of the most intriguing writers of the 20th century. Even if the man...more
Alex
Dec 20, 2013 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
You ever see a dog experience snow for the first time? Utterly mystified, right? "Ahhhhh, what the fuck is this, it's amazing!" Galumphing madly about. Trying to eat it. Batshit with ecstatic confusion.

That's how I felt about this book. I had no idea what was going on, until the very end, and I only had one or two ideas even then. Are these people crazy? Is the house haunted? Is there a bad guy? Is this supposed to be funny? But I loved every sentence.

Man, do I dig Shirley Jackson.
Caroline
***ALL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW ARE HIDDEN***

As scary novels go, The Haunting of Hill House is a lightweight--majorly. The character of Eleanor pretty much states what I felt the entire time I was reading this:
“It’s not us doing the waiting,” Eleanor said. “It’s the house. I think it’s biding its time.” “Waiting until we feel secure, maybe, and then it will pounce.”
The house “bides its time” for most of the book. The first haunting scene occurs at the book’s halfway point, and it, along with al...more
Gregor Xane
Upon finishing this book I knew two things:

1) Its reputation in my mind would grow over time

2) I wanted to revisit it in the near future and give it another read (which is something I rarely even consider)

For me, it didn't have the visceral impact that many people report after reading it. I didn't find the book scary. In fact, some aspects I found rather silly, like the introduction of Mrs. Montague near the end of the book. She was such a broadly drawn caricature of a overbearing wife, and she...more
Michelle
I've wanted to read this book since junior high or high school and finally got around to doing it. I had high hopes and even higher expectations. They were both sorely disappointed.

Three random people are chosen by a doctor to spend a summer in a home that is supposedly haunted, by what it is haunted is anyone's guess. How he finds these people is anyone's guess. The doctor's reasons for choosing these particular subjects are as obscure as their inexplicable reasons for joining a complete stran...more
Jill
We do not exist if we are not noticed.

That idea is what I took away from the tortuous, shocking horror novel The Haunting of Hill House, but I have no idea if it’s a common interpretation or not. The story begins innocuously, or as innocuously as a story can begin when the opening chapters feature four characters driving to a secluded country house in hopes of monitoring supernatural activity previously observed there. After finishing the novel, I looked back upon the slow, casual beginning wi...more
Miriam


Sad, mad, claustrophobic, and creepy.
Matt
Every autumn, in the run-up to Halloween, I experience a fleeting desire to be scared. (To be scared of things besides my credit card bill, I mean). Once the last of the candy disappears, and I turn out the lights on the front porch, and I throw my neighbor’s pumpkin into the street, this need has dissolved. I am, after all, a highly anxious individual; fictional fear holds little lasting value.

During this seasonal window, I seek out books and movies that might provide a bit of a chill. I am se...more
Werner
Feb 11, 2014 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of scary fiction
Recommended to Werner by: It was a common read in one of my groups
Note, Feb. 11, 2014: I edited this review just now, to make use of the spoiler tag feature Goodreads added since it was written. Now, the entire review doesn't have to be hidden to mask a couple sentences of spoilers!

This was initially a difficult book to review, and especially to rate; it definitely benefited from some time to reflect on it, so as to develop a tentative understanding of what was going on, because Jackson revels in ambiguity here. A two-star rating was out of the question; whate...more
Maciek
This particular volume is an obvious classic of contemporary gothic fiction, with one of the greatest opening paragraphs ever. It was also adapted into an absolutely fantastic film in 1963.

I can't write a review of this book without thinking of this film; I couldn't read Eleanor's endeavours, her thoughts and her lines without seeing and hearing Julie Harris. Her brilliant performance made the film for me, and as it turned out, the film became so ingrained in my memory that it became impossible...more
Sarah
By the standards of modern horror The Haunting of Hill House is not very scary at all, which is to say that I was able to read it without limiting my reading time to sunny mornings. It's a creepy book, but most of the horror was palatable to this wussy reader. It helped that I live in the anti-Hill House, a house of similar age to that twisted construction, but all warmth and welcome. I enjoyed the development of the characters, though it was hard to separate what was real from their playful pro...more
Madeline
The scariest thing about this book is that nothing actually scary really happens - at least, not the type of "scary" we're used to. This is not a chainsaw-weilding maniac, creepy-things-jumping-out-at-you kind of horror story. Hill House is haunted, there's no doubt about that, but everything occurs in such a subtle way that you don't even begin to feel really creeped out until the middle of the book. Then suddenly you find yourself sliding rapidly down the Slippery Slope of Creepy, and it's fan...more
Christopher
If you know me, it's not a secret that I am in love with Shirley Jackson. I named my cat after the protagonist of her masterpiece, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Mary Katherine, or Merricat for short. I could spend hours gushing over the genius of that book, but I cannot for the life of me articulate a review for it. But when I read The Haunting of Hill House for the first time a few years ago, it didn't steal my heart the way Shirley is usually able to do. It was an okay but not great 3-st...more
Mariel
Mar 23, 2011 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the hand that rocks the cradle
Recommended to Mariel by: suffer the little children
You know how knowing the nauesous despair of another person is like a window and at the same time it isn't? It's a mistake to think that you know everything about a person if they confide these things. Sometimes it is just because you're there (a depressing thought. I'm often "there" in that way). It's just one part. It's a strong part, though, and it stinks up the joint.
Sometimes those parts are ghosts that come back to haunt. They can be the devil on the shoulder as the little push in the wron...more
Ann Schwader
This is one of the quietest modern horror novels I’ve ever read – and one of the most disturbing. The opening paragraph alone is worth the price of admission.

Touching on both supernatural and psychological themes, The Haunting (also published as The Haunting of Hill House ) follows the attempt of one Dr. Montague to make an academic “summer project” of a house long known to be haunted. The three young people he selects to join him in this project all bring issues of their own – and one (no sp...more
Gary the SophistiCat
I read this as a teenager. I was in a phase where I was reading horror fiction- Carrie, Rosemary's Baby-and I selected this because I knew about Shirley Jackson from her short stories. I loved it and it remains the quintessential haunted house book. It's both gripping and gruesome and beautifully written. The characters are unforgettable. Give it a shot. Don't bother locking your doors because the real terror here is all in your mind.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Aric Cushing
Now that I have read most of Jackson's work, 'Come Along With Me', is by far the best, 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' second, and 'Haunting' I am not sure where . . . so many people like this, but after reading half of it, I couldn't continue. In the future, I will give the one piece of Jackson's a second chance to 'get' whatever everyone else seems to like.
Susan
"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alon...more
Megan
For years I have avoided this book. My least favorite subset of the horror genre is the trapped in the house/cabin/city/woods... you get the picture. I'm also not a fan of haunted house books. Who remembers the scene from Eddie Murphy's Raw when he talks about white people being so damn dumb because whenever a creepy house says, "Get ouuuuutttttt" the white people stay anyway, lol. Anyway, what a pleasant surprise to discover that this isn't what The Haunting of Hill House is about at all.

The H...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Could somebody please help me understand? 24 270 Aug 24, 2014 01:53PM  
ghost stories? 28 112 Apr 14, 2014 12:52PM  
Should I read it? 15 121 Jan 13, 2014 12:05AM  
r/books: {The Haunting of Hill House} October 1st-7th Chapters 1-2, Author talk. 4 21 Oct 17, 2013 10:48PM  
r/books: The Haunting of Hill House is our October book! 1 13 Oct 01, 2013 06:26PM  
  • Hell House
  • The Wine-Dark Sea
  • Naomi's Room
  • Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood
  • Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories
  • The Cipher
  • Conjure Wife
  • Incarnate
  • The Red Tree
  • The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
  • Teatro Grottesco
  • The Other
  • Ghost and Horror Stories
  • Best Ghost Stories of J. S. Le Fanu
  • The House Next Door
  • Isis
  • American Gothic Tales
  • The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories
13388
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
More about Shirley Jackson...
The Lottery and Other Stories The Lottery (Tale Blazers: American Literature) We Have Always Lived in the Castle Life Among the Savages Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories

Share This Book

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.” 323 likes
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” 143 likes
More quotes…