Trish's Reviews > We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
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's review
Dec 05, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites
Read in May, 2008

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 because his hands are "clean" of the tragedy? I think not.

The Twilight Zone (both a radio episode and a TV episode) delved a bit into this question when a blackout in a neighborhood convinces folks who live on the same street that their neighbor is an alien invader just because he's different. They are ready to kill him when a person from another block comes over and says the lights are coming back on.

How quickly can we become scared? How much influence does it take from others for us to do something in a split second to another human being that is irrevocable? How far will we go when we become zealous in our belief that "we" are the only normal people and our way is the only "right" way?

I am an unapologetic and unabashed fan of Shirley Jackson, but please read the book anyway! ;-)
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