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The Haunting of Hill House

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  40,542 ratings  ·  3,068 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"; Theod
Paperback, 182 pages
Published November 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1959)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A classic haunted house tale still every bit as potent as the day it was written.

For Eleanor Vance, the invitation to spend some time at Hill House is like a new lease on life, following the death of her mother. Taking the car against her sister’s wishes, she drives off to the secluded Hill House, a town shunned by the local population. But when she gets there, Eleanor rapidly discovers she isn’t the doctor’s only invitee. There’s something very wrong about Hill House, and Eleanor just unwitting
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.
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
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 w

As scary novels go, The Haunting of Hill House is a lightweight--majorly. The character of Eleanor sums up what it feels like to read this book:
“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 story. The first haunting scene occurs at the book’s halfway point, and it, along with all the others, is unl
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
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
It's the home I've dreamed of," Theodora said. "A little hideaway where I can be alone with my thoughts. Particularly if my thoughts happened to be about murder or suicide--"

Houses catch a bad rap. Some curse them as conduits, others as tombs. The shelter provided leaves a record of sins and scars. One could imagine the sum of voices gathering as well. Huddled and harboring. Echoes vie with whispers as dust motes measure the empty turn of the seasons. The curse of Hill House renders certain voic
“One of the best literary ghost stories” says Wikipedia, not having read any literary ghost stories I cannot attest to that (does A Christmas Carol count?). Wikipedia goes on to say that the novel “relies on terror rather than horror to elicit emotion by the reader”, I can confirm the absence of horror, but the terror also slipped under my radar. “Intriguing” would be my one word appraisal of this book. I did not know anything about The Haunting of Hill House prior to reading it so I was expect ...more

Sad, mad, claustrophobic, and creepy.
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
The scariest movie to me will probably always be The Shining* (no, I haven't read the book), because it subverts the two things that are scariest: 1. One's own mind turning in on itself, 2. Not being able to trust someone you used to trust implicitly (which is basically an off-shoot of #1, since one would hope to be able to trust oneself). When I watched You're Next with my boyfriend last night, it wasn't so much the movie itself that scared me, as the thought of the ways that my mind might twis ...more
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
Weird, weird book.

Jackson was a masterful storyteller, using a minimalistic approach and a terse, almost journalistic narrative, she creates a mood and sense of expectancy and mystery that grips the reader slowly and completely and lasts until the very end.

And unlike other ghost stories that struggle with an ending, Jackson's haunted house tale brilliantly ends with the same mystery and psychological tension as the narrative held throughout, she leaves the reader without a falsely satisfying c
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
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
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
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
"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."

This comes from the opening to The Haunting of Hill House, a 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson, an American writer who died far too young at the age of
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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 Lottery We Have Always Lived in the Castle 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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“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.” 393 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.” 192 likes
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