Will's Reviews > The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
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's review
Apr 23, 2008

really liked it
Recommended to Will by: Jenny Robinson
Recommended for: Fans of ghost stories
Read in May, 2008

** spoiler alert ** The Haunting of Hill House is a modern classic in genre fiction. The main character Eleanor, a lonely, young woman who has spent her entire adult life caring for her ailing mother, gets an invitation to stay at Hill House while a paranormal investigation is carried out. Seeking to escape her insufferable sister and the memory of her dead mother, she accepts the invitation. She is chosen as a guest by Dr. Montague, a paranormal researcher, because of a bizarre incident in her past involving poltergeist activity. Along with the doctor and Eleanor, the future owner of the house Luke Sanderson and a psychically gifted woman named Theodara also come to Hill House for the summer.
The story is streamlined and takes place over the course of a single week. Eleanor is unstable and insecure, having no real experience with people. She longs to belong, attaching herself to her new friends with a sad desperation.
This book succeeds by revealing very little about the actual haunting and focusing on the characters and their interactions with each other and the house, which is a character unto itself. When strange things do occur, the reader is left to guess about them, not getting any more information than the characters. The interplay between Eleanor, Theodora and Luke is complex and subtle. The reader is allowed to make a number of assumptions about what these people are doing to each other and whether they are intentionally doing it.
Jackson is a master at scaring her audience by not showing too much. The characters hear things and discover the aftermath of some unseen force, but almost never catch sight of anything. Some manefestations of the haunting are thrown into doubt due to Eleanor's psycological stability and the reader is left at the end to wonder just what exactly happend.

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Jenny Wow! You make me want to reread this!

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