Samantha's Reviews > The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
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it was amazing

I'm on a re-read through the works of Shirley Jackson. As an older child, maybe age 14 or so, I read all of her books I could find. I remember them all fondly, but not in any great detail, beyond remembering loving them, and maybe a general feeling for each. The feeling that had lingered in my mind about this one was shivery unease.

If there's another book to compare this one too, it's The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. Both are as psychological as they are ghostly. Both hang over the shoulder of a storyteller (Elanor, in this case) that may not be reliable, and in whom your doubts ebb and flow in different moments.

It's a basic haunted house story scenario: three young people come to a purported haunted house at the invitation of an academic sort who wants to study the phenomena and either explain it away or prove that something spooky is really going on. They're an interesting group, each with their own reasons for choosing to spend their summer on such an endeavor. Their interactions with each other are fraught with manipulation and ambiguities, adding to that feeling of not knowing whether you can trust the observations of your storyteller.

My favorite character is probably Mrs. Dudley, the housekeeper and caretaker, a dour and serious woman who delighted me with her creepy proclamations. My least favorite characters were Mrs. Montague and Arthur, who came in at the end. Maybe they were supposed to help us decide if the phenomena were real or imagined, but mostly they were just annoying.

That opening paragraph is going to linger with me for a long time. ""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 for eighty years and might stand for eighty more." Even better when it comes back at the end.

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Reading Progress

August 14, 2015 – Shelved
August 14, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
September 4, 2018 – Started Reading
September 8, 2018 – Finished Reading

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