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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  139,286 ratings  ·  16,123 reviews
Alternate cover edition here.

Shirley Jackson's masterpiece: the deliciously dark and funny story of Merricat, tomboy teenager, beloved sister - and possible lunatic.

"Her greatest book once whimsical and harrowing, a miniaturist's charmingly detailed fantasy sketched inside a mausoleum...Through depths and depths and bloodwarm depths we fall, until the surface is onl
Paperback, 158 pages
Published October 1st 2015 by Penguin Books (first published September 21st 1962)
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Jess Pick up Flannery O'Connor if you haven't already. Highly recommend her collections, specifically "Everything that Rises Must Converge" and "A Good Man…morePick up Flannery O'Connor if you haven't already. Highly recommend her collections, specifically "Everything that Rises Must Converge" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find." (Take a look at the title short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" or "Good Country People.") Poe is another obvious one, though more horror/ gothic. Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" is another good one for you. Other short stories: Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." This is probably the MOST obnoxiously obvious, but have you read "The Lottery" ? :)(less)
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  139,286 ratings  ·  16,123 reviews

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Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
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
Bill Kerwin
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic, fiction

This book is a masterpiece. It is short and spare and written in crystal clear prose, yet so evocative that it is richer in nuance than most good novels twice its size. It is so good I could kick myself for not reading it years ago, yet so mythic I am convinced I have known it always, like a tragic folktale or a chilling childhood dream. And yet, for all its grimness, it is essentially a comedy: darkly, transcendently, funny.

The Blackwood sisters—28-year-old Constance and 18-year-old Mary Kathar
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Halloween is just around the corner and it's time for some spooky books - but which ones are worth your time? Check out this BookTube Video for answers!
What you think you know, you don't

Several years ago, someone poisoned the sugar bowl at the last Blackwood family dinner, resulting in the death of nearly every family member.

Only the two sisters (Merricat and Constance) and their ailing uncle (Julian) remain on the secluded estate but they are not the same as they once were.

Since that fatef
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
You will be wondering about that sugar bowl, I imagine. Is it still in use? You are wondering; has it been cleaned? You may very well ask; was it thoroughly washed?

This book is looney tune. I'm not even sure about some things that happened.

One of my GR friends needs to message me so we can discuss some things on this book. (Of course no one will read this so it's a mute point)

So Constance, Merricat, and Uncle Julian live in the home together with all of their land enclosed. The rest of the
I might be the only person in the world who thinks this book is too weird, senseless, anticlimactic and almost plotless. The characters however are charismatic in their craziness. It's just not my type of crazy. ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Shirley Jackson novel. A masterpiece of unreliable narration and of the eerie relationship between childishness and horror.

I'm now re-reading this for a December group read, so I thought I'd update this review as I go.

A lot has already been written about the masterful opening paragraph of this book, so I'll focus instead on the opening chapter. It basically involves the narrator, Merricat, walking into town to do some shopping. Sounds boring? It's anything but that. Shirley Jackson u
Muhtasin Fuad
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Manipulation, cruelty, and tragic. As this book was Jackson's final work and my first experience with her writing, I enjoyed it. An unconventional horror novel but the story can able to examine people on their relationships, sympathy, separation, greed, and evil. Excellent writing. peculiar story but interesting. Overall I enjoyed it.
I was pretending that I did not speak their language; on the moon we spoke a soft, liquid tongue, and sang i
I hate you, Shirley Jackson.


I mean, I know you're dead and all, but still. . .

I want to drive to your haunted house in Vermont and throw rocks at your windows.

I want to smash every pumpkin, carved, by your front door.

I want to hold a séance in your bedroom to summon your spirit, then I want to pull those ugly ass bobby pins from your hair, rip those ugly ass dated glasses off your nose and pull that ugly ass cable knit sweater over your face.

And then. . . I think I want to make out
Edward Lorn
Pretty language and creepy atmosphere mix with a plot I was expecting a little more from. I kept thinking, any minute now... any minute now this is going to blow a part in my hair... any minute now I'm going to think "Where has this book been all my life?" ... any minute now I'm going to see what everyone else sees in this book and cream my acid-washed Jordaches.

And then it ended. Yup...

The unreliable narrator worked well, and the agoraphobic feel of the piece was certainly established... but I
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Her, that guy over there, him, and you.
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Diane Rehm Show
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!

A cliche in American horror films is to include children singing a song that is seemingly innocent at first, but gnaws at the nerves with a haunting sadism. We watch children, young and naive, signing and spinning in a corn field bathed by an autumn dusk; the cliche works because it is an image that we welcome through o
Felice Laverne
“The least Charles could have done,” Constance said, considering seriously, “was shoot himself through the head in the driveway.”

Have you ever tiptoed down a hall in a dark house late at night, not sure if you really heard that bump in the night? That is what reading this novel was like, in all of the best ways possible. Shirley Jackson is a renowned master at the macabre, the unnerving, the Gothic genre, and this work puts her talents on full display—in HD. Most have read "The Lottery," wheth
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A.K.A.: Grey Gardens by William Faulkner. Are these unfortunate souls dead or alive in their domestic limbo? Oh, this is one delicious yarn with plenty of turns--with a terror that comes to us only by the Literary Mistress of the Dark Herself, Shirley Jackson. The luxurious morbidity, the Harper Lee Goth cynicism of the book, it is all an absolute delight. I am truly beginning to think that all of her books are like this one--simply the classiest horror of ALL TIME.
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson's group of misguided investigators discuss the idea that some houses are inherently born evil, and are destined to be haunted from the moment they're built. We Have Always Lived in the Castle explores the opposite idea: how a home becomes a haunted house.

One of the many, many fascinating things about this book is the way it could have been approached in a completely different way. It could have opened with someone - a stranger to the village, most l
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
High Gothic Art

Hawthorne, Poe, Lovecraft, and even James: Jackson is in their company when it comes to the Gothic genre. She writes in noir et blanc; every word is necessary; the context is revealed at just the right continuous pace; and there is plenty to reveal. No gimmicks, no spiritualist allusions, no unlikely situations: Jackson puts later writers like Stephen King to shame with her talent and wit.

Someone is a homicidal maniac, but which of the Blackwood sisters is it? The traumatized and
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Bryant
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels

Just another homicidal paranoid-schizophrenic proto-hippy 18 year old girl-child who lives with her older agoraphobic/social-phobic sister and dementia-sufferer wheelchair-bound uncle in an isolated house in the aftermath of a dreadful family tragedy whereby all of the family except these three were poisoned to death in that very house. It’s not an uncommon situation. I know three similar cases here in Nottingham, and I could have told Cousin Charles Blackwood, who turns up crudely attempting to
This is one to cherish. I thought that I've seen everything there is to read. We Have Always Lived in the Castle almost...almost! surprised me. Here is the ultimate dysfunctional family. The Simpsons eat your heart out. Merricat has mostly her elder sister Constance to live with.

Death by arsenic is a painful way to die. I've been fascinated by arsenic ever since I read The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It used to be available at the chemist and apparently you had to sign your name to get it. Anyw
Petra can see again but through a smoky lens
I'm an outlier here, I didn't think much of the book at all. The plot was unbelievably hackneyed just like Shirley Jackson's other really-highly rated book, The Lottery. The author writes well - good atmospheric scenes and well-drawn characters but the plots are just so unoriginal and the characters with variations are nothing new either: we've all read them in many novels before.

(view spoiler)
Ahmad Sharabiani
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a 1962 mystery novel by American author Shirley Jackson.

Merricat Blackwood, her elder sister Constance, and their ailing Uncle Julian live in a large house on extensive grounds, in isolation from the nearby village. Constance has not left their home in six years, going no farther than her large garden.

Uncle Julian, confined to a wheelchair, obsessively writes and re-writes notes for his memoirs, while Cons
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!

I don’t really have a good reason to begin with that quote, other than the fact that I’m obsessed with it. It’s up there with the Boggis, Bunce, & Bean poem from Fantastic Mr. Fox in the global rankings of Creepy Rhymes Chanted By Neighborhood Children In Reference To Nearby Monster-People.

The difference between this boo
Justin Tate
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was my first exposure to Shirley Jackson and, perhaps consequently, holds an abnormally large portion of my heart. The Haunting of Hill House is probably better, and "The Lottery" is perhaps the best 20 pages of prose ever written, but I find myself daydreaming of We Have Always Lived in the Castle the most.

I'm not going to describe plot because I went into it knowing nothing and liked it that way. If you absolutely need to know, read the description--but also know that it won't do it
Dave Schaafsma
Happy Halloween, (which for horror fans in general or Shirley Jackson fans in particular is basically every day of the year), in conjunction with my having just read The Shirley Jackson Project, a comics tribute collection edited by Robert Kirby.

9/17/18: Third read for my Fall 2018 YA course, and what has emerged as one of my favorite books of all time. This time I noticed all the food references more than ever. And loved the strange lyricism of Merricat's deft observations. Are Merricat and Co
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it !
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
This is a great example of a popular book I simply don't get.

Maybe I would need to analyze it to enjoy it but... I didn't care enough for that.

Not bad, just not for me.
Emily May
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, classics, 2015
I truly expected to enjoy this book that has been described as creepy, sinister, unsettling and disturbing, but I honestly found it none of those things.

Very little happens beyond going through the motions of Constance and Merricat's daily lives. There is a single revelation and it is extremely anticlimactic, making me instantly not give a damn the moment it appears. I did not find it eerie or interesting... just lacking in everything.

I enjoyed Jackson's The Lottery and Other Stories much more.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-shelf, horror
Such a classic.

Even when we know what's going on and why it's happening, it's so easy to fall into the character and root for her. I can't stand the things that people put her through, from the town, to Charles, or even to her own parents. (Although to be sure, we only get a tiny little glance at her parents from a few repeated lines.)

When reading this I was thinking of Paul Tremblay's Head Full of Ghosts for the murder (some say accident) of most of the family at dinner, but of course, this wa
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
A group reads with the following people: Ashley, Ginger, and Jeff. I will update the list if other people will join (I am totally NOT looking at you, Dan 2.0).

The less I say about the plot the less spoilers I give - I consider the usual blurbs for this book to be quite spoilerish. In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Hobbit Hole
Sorry wrong tale. Let me start again. In a lonely house there lived Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood, her sister Constance Blackwood, and their uncle Julian Blackwood. T
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: Jennifer (aka EM)
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 ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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 work f ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A creepy little tale from a bullied psychopaths point of view. Stars rounded up from three on account of the villagers' choices before and after the main event. ...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

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For as long as people have been telling stories, we’ve spun tales of the monsters and nightmares that lurk in the shadows of our imaginations....
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“A pretty sight, a lady with a book.” 683 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.” 332 likes
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