Neil'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
Nov 08, 2011

it was amazing

This was truly and deeply creepy. It opens with 18-year-old Mary Katherine making a trip into her town to buy groceries. It's clear that the locals don't like Mary Kat or her family, but is it because they're rich or something more? And what is exactly is going on with Mary Katherine, who is more than a little eccentric.

We next meet Mary Kat's older sister Constance and her uncle Julian. They are Mary Kat's only surviving family. Constance comes off as terribly innocent for her years and is homebound by what may be agoraphobia. Jonas is stuck in his wheelchair and suffers moments of dementia.

Jackson masterfully unwraps the layers here, revealing a horrible crime from the past but keeping the reader in deep suspense about what exactly happened. That's the heart of the book: who are the criminals and who are the victims? Are the Blackwoods crazy by nature, have they been driven crazy by horrible treatment, or are they the only sane ones in a terrible little town?

These are just a few of the fascinating questions in a novel where the reader shouldn't draw conclusions too quickly.

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