Published on November 28, 2006
Genres: Horror, Gothic
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Barnes and Noble
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 woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
For starters, I decided I’m going to do book reviews a little differently. If it’s a book I’m just reading of my own accord, it’ll be more informal. If it’s a book I’m reading for a publisher I’ll keep to my traditional way of doing things!
Anyways, I just finished The Haunting of Hill House, and first of all, SHIRLEY JACKSON WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?
How could I have gone so long without reading a Jackson novel? I feel ashamed. I’m obsessed. I’m in love. I have never felt such dread while reading a book before.
I also had to read The Lottery once I started to learn more about her, and read the terrific book introduction (Penguins Classic version FTW). Well, obviously, one of my new favorite short stories ever.
Jackson knows how to write a persistent ache of tension and suspense perhaps better than any modern horror writer. I’ve read quite a bit of horror and many thrillers, but despite the fact, Hill House has no “ghosts,” it made me more uneasy than anything I’ve read previously.
The first thing I did after finishing the book was to spend time online reading analytical essays. I love that this novel is so open-ended. There is so much to unpack. I felt I could relate to Eleanor’s sense of isolation; perhaps that is one reason I was so unnerved. I couldn’t help but wonder what Hill House would do to me, had I stayed.
Reading the book also made me appreciate the Netflix series much more. Despite their differences, Flanagan indeed did a magnificent job of conveying the sense of palpable fear the house drums up.
Sure the series was more flashy and had actual entities, but it felt sincere to the story. Especially the addition of the red room, which makes perfect sense why it fits so well once you’ve read the book.
Anyway, I feel like I could go on forever and should say something amazing and in-depth but I’m coming up blank at the moment. I think I will revisit the dark corners of Hill House soon and form more coherent thoughts about it.