We Have Always Lived in the Castle
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  18,823 ratings  ·  2,577 reviews
Visitors call seldom at Blackwood House. Taking tea at the scene of a multiple poisoning, with a suspected murderess as one's host, is a perilous business. For a start, the talk tends to turn to arsenic. "It happened in this very room, and we still have our dinner in here every night," explains Uncle Julian, continually rehearsing the details of the fatal family meal. "My...more
Hardcover, 214 pages
Published 1962 by Viking Press
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Paul
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jason
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
Nataliya
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...more
Kinga
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...more
Maciek
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...more
Becca
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...more
sydney
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...more
Michael
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...more
Feliks
This novel by distinguished author Shirley Jackson is not only my favorite work of the supernatural; it is my very favorite work by any female author. It is also my #1 favorite work of American fiction; and my #2 favorite fiction book of the entire Twentieth century.

There is almost no yoke I would place on my praise for it. And yet: almost no one I meet is familiar with the title. I never see it reviewed or mentioned--even in passing--by anyone other than Stephen King. It is the quiet child of...more
Diane
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...more
Sam
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
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...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.

Caroline
Nov 11, 2013 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Caroline by: Feliks
******ALL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW ARE HIDDEN******

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)...more
Rowena
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.
Jill
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 o...more
Barks & Bites
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...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...more
Alondra
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...more
Aloha
Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
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
Melanie
Jun 24, 2014 Melanie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melanie by: Aidan
I loved every delicious, dark, intriguing moment of this fey masterpiece. In the beginning I was reminded of Carson McCullers and felt instantly at home. One day I hope to write a review that does this justice but for now, I just can't recommend this beauty highly enough.

Thank you Aidan!
Sierra
Sep 26, 2007 Sierra rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like their horror super-smart
So I just finished reading this for the second time, and I'm now sure it's one of my favorite books, ever. Shirley Jackson has been largely ignored as a major voice; she's most famous now for her book Raising Demons, about her experience as a mother, and for a couple short stories that have been widely anthologized but never positioned as part of a larger significant body of work. This book is totally, perfectly creepy and incredibly thought-provoking. The world she creates here is so seductive...more
Charlene
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...more
Ann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
Anna Janelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Don
Great short one-sit read. Scary creepy disturbing depressing. Shirley Jackson's last novel written three years before her death while she was experiencing mental disorders. Sisters Constance and Mary Katherine Blackwood's devotion to each other and their alienation from a hostile outside world is a rich mash-up of the situation of Big and Little Edie living in Grey Gardens with a bit of Boo Radley's ostracism and the unconditional love of Celia and Dorothea in Middlemarch. So other-worldly and y...more
Adriana
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a quasi-horror fairytale about two sisters, Mary Katherine (Merricat) and Constance Blackwood, who live in isolation with their invalid uncle Julian. The villagers of the small town hate the Blackwoods. It could be their wealth or their elitist attitude. Or it could be the murder of 4 of the family members 6 years previous. The sisters interact little with the villagers and seem to have not matured at all since the loss of their family. Merricat, at 18, runs...more
Jo
Jackson's 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' tells a delicious story of horror, isolation, murder and intrigue. With one of the most inspired and vibrant narrators that I can think of, this novel tells the story of Merricat, a young woman who lives in a mansion on a hill with her older sister, Constance and her Uncle Julian after a tragedy is inflicted on their family.
Merricat is the most charming and perfect narrator as she introduces you to her strange life, filled with her superstitions (s...more
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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
More about Shirley Jackson...
The Lottery and Other Stories The Haunting of Hill House The Lottery (Tale Blazers: American Literature) Life Among the Savages Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories

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“A pretty sight, a lady with a book.” 237 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.” 123 likes
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