Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 246
Format: Paperback
Released: First released i 1959, this version came out in 2009

Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Luke, the adventurous future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with chilling, even horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

A very scary ghost story

The Haunting of Hill House is one of the best ghoststories I have ever read.

Dr. John Montague have studied antropology and is using his education to study supernatural phenomenon. He rents Hill House, which is known to be haunted, and sends out invitations for a stay to a group of people who all have experienced something paranormal earlier in their life. Together they will investigate if there is any truth in the stories that are being told about the house. Among the people arriving at the house, we find Eleanor Vance and Theodora. Luke Sanderson is the house owner's nephew. None of them have any clue what they are about to participate in.

Shirley Jackson's wellknown classic was not a all what I had anticipated, it was way better. It had me glued to the pages right from the first sentence. The opening of the book is one of the best I have ever read. Just listed to this:

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 alone.

The main character in this story is Eleanor Vance, and a lot of the scenes are experienced through her eyes. Eleanor has spent the last ten years taking care of her mother, and she is thrilled to get the opportunity to stay at Hill House, meet new people and experience something out of the ordinary. Jackson makes sure that our sympathy lies with her.

The suspense is slowly built up. We get a lot of hints about the house and its story, but it takes some time before there is any real drama. But that does not make the story boring in any way, when there is finally some real action you are already at the edge of your seat. And it gets more and more spooky. I would not want to read this story home alone at night. Even though I read it with my boyfriend sleeping next to me in bed, I was still scared.

The Haunting of Hill House is so spooky, and the story will continue to haunt you even when you have read the last page. Read it, if you dare.

Other reviews:
Dark Echo
The Liminal State

I read this as part of the Horror & Urban Fantasy Challenge, and the Gothic reading challenge.


Vampires and Tofu said...

I always thought I had read this one, but after your review, I now realize I haven't...must fix this!

Trish said...

Great review! This one is already on my TBR list but I have yet to get my hands on a copy.

Anonymous said...

The only scary Jackson stuff I've read was the short story "The Lottery." That was a great story, scary and unexpected, and I hope that The Haunting of Hill House is just as good.

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

This looks incredible! I really want to read this.
Brilliant review!

Top Rated Houston TX Asbestos Lawyer said...

PHENOMENAL read. Very interesting. The writing was absolutely beautiful and I fell in love with poor Nell. Could have done without the Doctor's wife and colleague, but it kept the humor up.

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