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The Haunting of Hill House

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  117,571 ratings  ·  10,969 reviews
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"; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woma ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1959)
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Laurie The 1963 black and white film version is one of the all-time scariest movies devoid of gore, monsters or an obvious menace. Because, it's the house.…moreThe 1963 black and white film version is one of the all-time scariest movies devoid of gore, monsters or an obvious menace. Because, it's the house. It's a psychological thriller in the truest, classic sense of that phrase. (less)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  117,571 ratings  ·  10,969 reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Haunting of Hill House (1959) is justly revered as an exemplar of the horror genre, not only because its plot provides the template for all those haunted house tales to come, but also because its superb prose and subtle psychology transcend genre, transforming what might otherwise have been merely a sensational tale into a artful novel, worthy of a discerning reader.

The novel suffers from its own pervasive influence, for, as soon as it gets underway, it seems—whether or not you've seen eithe
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic
I'm falling in love with this book all over again as I re-read it. The premise is that of a science experiment--an academic exercise to test the reality of house-haunting. I love the fact that the opening pages essentially replicate the clinical nature of the premise: here's the chief investigator, here are the three other characters, all described at a clinical remove before we get into the "story" itself. A contemporary editor might have said: "Cut this out and get right to the story," but to ...more
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic, horror
”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 alon ...more
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is not about fear but rather about the love of being afraid-- for the ravenous gauging of limits. Adrenaline is searched for.... neurosis & a collective paranoia ensue. & cause, naturally, follows effect.

"Books are frequently very good carriers... Materializations are often best produced in rooms where there're books. I cannot think of any time when material was in any way hampered by the presence of books." [186]

There is an aura of authentic literary splicing here: the psychol
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
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I got this from the library and I can't figure out what to rate it so I had to go with a 3 for right now.

Here's the thing. I loved the movies better than the book. But I did enjoy the crazy, through the rabbit hole ness of the book. It's not scary in the least. Not to me anyway. But it's good weird and just uggg I can't explain it.

Anyway, sorry so short. I don't feel that good. I wanted to do a longer review on this one. 😕

Mel ❤
May 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hand me my damn smelling salts. . . please.

I feel like I'm recovering from the flu, finishing this read.

It's been a disorienting time. . . just like a nasty run-in with influenza: headaches, sleeplessness, fever, delusions. . . no cure for you until it's over.


I talked to this book (always the scariest and most sincere sign of my personal devotion).

I apologized to Shirley Jackson (aloud, in my room, alone).

I asked her to forgive me for not reading this before. This ridiculously short, lit
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Weird, weird book.

But well worth the time reading it.

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 re
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Sgt Pepper and the Citizen Kane of ghost stories.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Upping my rating from 3.5 stars to 4.5 on reread. It’s so strange, how much better this classic 1959 haunted house tale worked for me on rereading, knowing what to expect from it. It's creepy in a subdued, elusive sort of way--not the sort of explicit horror that we're more used to nowadays. But the second time through, I could really appreciate all the hints and subtleties and just the sheer artistry in Shirley Jones’ writing.

Dr. John Montague, whose “true vocation” is researching and analyzing
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

The Haunting of Hill House is a slightly spooky read that follows four strangers into the depths of a haunted house with a mind of its own.

"No one knows, even, why some houses are called haunted."
"What else
could you call Hill House?" Luke demanded.
"Well - disturbed, perhaps. Leprous. Sick. Any of the popular euphemisms for insanity; a deranged house is a pretty conceit."

What makes The Haunting of Hill
Dan Schwent
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
October Buddy Read with the Pantsless Ones

When an occult scholar recruits people to help him research the paranormal events at Hill House, will the house let any of them leave unscathed?

I've heard this touted as a classic haunted house story for decades and finally decided to take the plunge when the Pantless Ones picked it for an October read. I was not overly impressed.

I don't know if this was the case of wrong book/wrong time but I was not engaged by this book. All of the characters seemed li
I finished my audio re-read today. My opinion and review below still stands. If it's possible, I loved it even more this time around.
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:

JV (semi-hiatus)
"Nothing in this house moves, until you look away, and then you just catch something from the corner of your eye."
A lurid phantasmagoria of terror obscuring the facets of reality and the metaphysical. Discombobulation is an understatement even for the most astute of readers whereby mental aberration fuses with psychic disturbances to create a timely classic that uncovers the frailties of the human psyche. Come along, dear visitor, relinquish, abdicate, give yourself willingly to the house's et
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great classic horror story! It just may be one of the best, because of the year she wrote this book
truly makes it unique and a precursor of all or most of the haunted house stories to be written thereafter.
The movie The Haunting old b&w based on this story is excellent and truly scary and creepy especially for that era
and so eerie and suspenseful and no blood and gore just an old fashioned scare the wits out of you haunted house story!
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2018
My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.

The Haunting of Hill House starts off as a straightforward story about a doctor and his eclectic guests moving into a haunted house for the summer, in order to record its weird happenings, but the novel swiftly transforms into an unsettling study of the links between repression, isolation, and fear. An unexpected and unreciprocated romance sparks the change. Each of the nine chapters consists of a series of cinemat
J.L.   Sutton
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is a fantastic story! Like the House of Usher, Hill House draws you into its mystery and the unfolding terror. From the outset, there is an undefinable sense of unease and dread. The first lines indicate that the house holds darkness within (great opening!).
The house finds a way to isolate visitors from the rest of the world, and frightens us with our own demons. We see that happening to characters who have been invited to Hill House.

Strange to me t
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in college, a little film called The Haunting was released. Starring Lily Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson, this Supernatural Horror flick was essentially a modern re-imagining of Shirley Jackson's, The Haunting of Hill House.

My Mom and I went to the theater to see it when it released that summer and I promptly fell in love. Soon after, I was able to buy it on VHS ((I know, right!?!) and commenced watching it 2,638,400 times. I wish this was an exaggeration but sadly, it's
Bionic Jean
"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
Kayla Dawn
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
2,5* / I don't know, maybe I'm too stupid to appreciate this story.
I was basically bored throughout the whole book. I didn't feel anything for the characters and even the atmosphere didn't quite get to me.

I liked the writing style though and Eleanor as a narrator was really interesting.

I'm still having hopes for the Netflix show!! I heard nothing but awesome things, so I'm really curious about it.

Update: I just finished the show and wooooooow that was heartbreaking and beautiful and SO well done
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People Who Don't Wear Pants
Find all of my reviews at:


My first official buddy read with the Non-Crunchy Cool Classic Pantsless ones . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

Turns out they picked kind of a crunchy one. I should have known those bastages were just trying to trick me! The Haunting of Hill House wasn’t awful, but it was most definitely a slow roller and more of an eerie tale rather th
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
Dannii Elle
It still astounds me how a decades old horror story can continue to captivate and terrify a modern-day audience, more attuned to altogether grislier, bloodier, and gorier tales.

The Haunting of Hill House is about exactly as the title described. And yet knowing all that is to come enhances instead of detracts from the building dread that begins right as the novel opens. The reader is introduced to a motley crew of intrepid explorers, advancing on the hidden Hill House as part of a spiritual exper
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
4.5 Stars


Let me start this off by saying the tv-show (while very good) changes literally everything except some names so you can still read the book and be surprised.

This is old-school, slow-build horror, especially in the way it relies on uneasy anticipation instead of shock-factor. There’s no mutilated corpses, gruesome death scenes, and overall very little disturbing imagery-- and this is still one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. Simply because Jackson’s writing masterfully plays with
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This is a buddy read in a super-secret group which I will not name for the fear of a fatal accident I will have if I do name it. However I will name the people involved: Licha, Anne, Steve, Jeff, Miriam, Stepheny, Delee, Dan, Dan 2, Alissa, Tadiana, Ginger, Kristin, Christopher, and Kelly. Speaking about Kelly, I have no chances whatsoever to write a better review than hers, but the guy can still hope, can't he? Please let me know if I forgot somebody.

Let me put you in the right mood for the re
Raeleen Lemay
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was certainly eerie, creepy, and haunting. It was elegantly written, and the characters and plot immediately sucked me in. I highly recommend this for anybody looking for a slightly spooky, easy-to-read classic. I can't wait to read more Shirley Jackson!
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adored We have Always Lived in a Castle, so I have no idea why I'm so surprised I loved this. "THIS HOUSE IS VILE" will be forever ingrained in my mind.
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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
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.” 820 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.” 476 likes
More quotes…