Hot Best Seller

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Modern Classics)

Availability: Ready to download

Product Description The greatest haunted house story ever written, the inspiration for a 10-part Netflix series directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, and Timothy Hutton 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 Product Description The greatest haunted house story ever written, the inspiration for a 10-part Netflix series directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, and Timothy Hutton 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, his 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 more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. Amazon.com Review Praise for Penguin Horror Classics: “The new Penguin Horror editions, selected by Guillermo del Toro, feature some of the best art-direction (by Paul Buckley) I've seen in a cover in quite some time.” – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing "Each cover does a pretty spectacular job of evoking the mood of the title in bold, screenprint-style iconography." – Dan Solomon, Fast Company About the Author SHIRLEY JACKSON (1916-1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote such classic novels as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Bird's Nest, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, ''The Lottery.'' She has influenced such writers as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Table of Contents PENGUIN CLASSICS Title Page Copyright Page Dedication Introduction The Haunting of Hill House Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 PENGUIN CLASSICS THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE SHIRLEY JACKSON was born in San Francisco in 1916. She first received wide critical acclaim for her short story “The Lottery,” which was published in 1949. Her novels—which include The Sundial, The Bird’s Nest, Hangsaman, The Road through the Wall, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin), in addition to The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin)—are characterized by her use of realistic settings for tales that often involve elements of horror and the occult. Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are her two works of nonfiction. Come Along With Me (Penguin) is a collection of stories, lectures, and part of the novel she was working on when she died in 1965.


Compare

Product Description The greatest haunted house story ever written, the inspiration for a 10-part Netflix series directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, and Timothy Hutton 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 Product Description The greatest haunted house story ever written, the inspiration for a 10-part Netflix series directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, and Timothy Hutton 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, his 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 more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. Amazon.com Review Praise for Penguin Horror Classics: “The new Penguin Horror editions, selected by Guillermo del Toro, feature some of the best art-direction (by Paul Buckley) I've seen in a cover in quite some time.” – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing "Each cover does a pretty spectacular job of evoking the mood of the title in bold, screenprint-style iconography." – Dan Solomon, Fast Company About the Author SHIRLEY JACKSON (1916-1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote such classic novels as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Bird's Nest, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, ''The Lottery.'' She has influenced such writers as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Table of Contents PENGUIN CLASSICS Title Page Copyright Page Dedication Introduction The Haunting of Hill House Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 PENGUIN CLASSICS THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE SHIRLEY JACKSON was born in San Francisco in 1916. She first received wide critical acclaim for her short story “The Lottery,” which was published in 1949. Her novels—which include The Sundial, The Bird’s Nest, Hangsaman, The Road through the Wall, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin), in addition to The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin)—are characterized by her use of realistic settings for tales that often involve elements of horror and the occult. Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are her two works of nonfiction. Come Along With Me (Penguin) is a collection of stories, lectures, and part of the novel she was working on when she died in 1965.

30 review for The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Modern Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    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 see 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 either movie version—woefully familiar. Dr Montague (stuffy old scientific type), wishing to investigate a haunted house, enlists the aid of Eleanor (shy,retiring type), Theodora (flamboyant bohemian type), and Luke (handsome upper-class type), the heir to the house. At first, by daylight, things don't seem half-bad, but then night comes, and... well, you get idea. (Of course you do. You've heard it all before.) What you have not heard before, however, is the intelligent tone or the distinctive music of her prose. Witness part of the description of Hill House, early in the second chapter, as seen through the eyes of Eleanor: This house, which seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head back against the sky without concession to humanity. It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. What a wonderful repetition of “for” in the last sentence! (Instead, I probably would have written “not a fit place for people, love, or hope.” And I would have been wrong.) In addition to its prose, the book's subtle psychology—similar to James' Turn of the Screw--interests and entrances the reader with its ambiguity. Are the phenomena real or caused by one of the experimenters? Is the house possessing them, or is one of them possessing the house? Shirley Jackson is too good a writer to decide for us. We must choose to decide—or not to decide—for ourselves. The book would have my highest praise except for the fact that the infuriating Mrs. Montague and her pompous friend Arthur Parker, brought in three-quarters of the way through to ease tension and give comic relief, are not only unnecessary but dissipate tension rather than relieve it. Besides, the laconic, creepy Mrs. Dudley (“I don't stay after six. Not after it begins to get dark.") is plenty of comic relief all by herself. But Mrs. M. and her friend P. are but a minor flaw. Give The Haunting of Hill House a chance. It is, in addition to being a classic of the genre, an excellent novel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    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 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...objective about it. The book veers between said objectivity and long hallucinatory 'scary' bits, but I found those bits sort of messily written and vague to the point of being coy, and just scanned through them. I dunno, it's like a bunch of hipstery academic fucks try to have an adventure, and instead spend most of the time discussing the adventure they're currently having, instead of actually having it. Oh, and the last ten pages got a little more focused and they were sort of creepy, but I was kind of forcing it because I really wanted to get something more out of the book than I actually did. The end.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    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 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 me these opening pages are wonderful little character studies. Then we follow Eleanor, the main character, as she takes the car she shares with her sister and drives to Hill House. Again, it takes a few pages to get there, but it allows for wonderful scenes where her imagination takes flight or where she interacts, awkwardly, with the townsfolk in the nearest small town. The interaction in the diner is classic Shirley Jackson--capturing the suspicion and unease and boredom of small town life. **** Now for the house itself. I'd forgotten just what a genius description of the Hill House we're treated to when Eleanor first sees it. I find it fascinating that Jackson describes the house for nearly two pages without ever physically describing it, other than to say it's "enormous and dark" and has steps leading up to a veranda. And yet...we somehow know it intimately nonetheless. It's presented as being alive, as being almost a lover who "enshadows" Eleanor when she walks up those steps, and in that description you get not only a sense of the house itself, but a sense of Eleanor, of her loneliness and perhaps even madness. She's afraid of Hill House in the same way she'd be afraid of a lover. Here is this strong presence who threatens to swallow her up, and in a way, when she walks in, a sort of Gothic romance is born. **** The moment when Eleanor first meets Theodora is so brilliantly done. Eleanor is at the top of the stairs, looking down, and she begins talking before you realize there's anyone else there. "Thank heaven you're here," she says. To whom? Is there anyone really? Maybe not! Maybe Eleanor is mad. It's a disorienting moment, and then Eleanor sees Mrs. Dudley, but Eleanor is still not described as seeing anyone else until Theodora introduces herself. But even then, there is no physical description of Theodora--there's just a voice: "I'm Theodora." Is this all in Eleanor's head? Wow. **** There really is so little physical description of the other characters, with the possible exception of Doctor Montague, who's described as "round and rosy and bearded" and who "looked as though he might be more suitably established before a fire in a pleasant little sitting room, with a cat on his knee and a rosy little wife to bring him jellied scones....". I love that description, but what amazes even more is how the other characters really aren't described at all. Only the house is tangible in a way. **** I love the playfulness in Shirley Jackson, and the first conversation, when all four characters are sitting around talking, is a marvelous example of it. They're playing a game, inventing whimsical characters for themselves, but all is not pure fun--there's the flash of Eleanor's jealousy when Theodora gives Luke a "quick, understanding glance"--the same kind of glance "she had earlier given Eleanor." Beneath the fun and games lies something deadly serious. **** The relationship between Theodora and Eleanor makes me think of a major theme in this book--sisterhood. You have Eleanor and her sister, of course, at the beginning of the book, and then the tale of the orphaned sisters who lived in Hill House, and then Eleanor and Theodora themselves, who quickly become like sisters. All those relationships are marked and marred by jealousy, one that lies just beneath the polite surface of things. Fascinating. **** Interesting to study how Jackson builds the sense of disquiet throughout the novel. She does it through so many small decisions like the one I mentioned earlier, where she doesn't physically describe her characters. There's also a wonderful moment at the beginning of Chapter 4, where Eleanor and Theodora wake up after the first (uneventful) night at Hill House. It's a small moment, yet so revealing of Jackson's technique. Theodora is in the bathroom, taking a bath. Eleanor is in her room, looking out the window. Then in the very next paragraph, with no transition whatsoever, Theodora is suddenly pounding on the bathroom door telling Eleanor to hurry up. What? It takes a moment to realize what has happened--to realize that now Eleanor is in the bath, and Theordora is outside waiting for her. It's a startling jump-cut, to use a movie term. Jackson is constantly doing that sort of thing, unsettling the reader's expectations, making us realize that anything can happen and we can't rely on the usual narrative logic. It's so subtle, yet so masterful. **** I've been thinking of the line that Eleanor keeps quoting: "Journeys end in lovers meeting." I didn't know this before, but it's actually from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night--it's a line sung by the "fool" in that play. Does this have any significance for Jackson's novel? I'm not sure. It's an interesting line in and of itself--so revealing of Eleanor's romantic desires, the way she seems so attracted to Theodora and to Hill House itself. She has the overwhelming sense that she belongs here, that she's part of this slapdash "family" of people staying at the house. She's excited; she's happy; she's constantly afraid of "missing something." In short, she's having the time of her life. This is her journey's end, and she's met her lover (or lovers), and she relishes every moment. **** But then things start to turn--the relationship between Eleanor and Theodora starts to fray. It's begins with something immensely small--Theodora painting Eleanor's toenails red without Eleanor's permission. It's a small moment, but Eleanor harkens back to it later, when Theodora is frightened by the bloody creepy words painted on her wall: HELP ELEANOR COME HOME ELEANOR. Theodora is badly shaken and they all wonder if it's really blood and, of course, who put it there. Suspicion immediately falls on Eleanor, and you can see her struggle with what to say, her thoughts veering back to the red of her toenails and focusing on the fact that Theodora will now have to stay in her room and wear her clothes, and you can't help wonder if all this is Eleanor's elaborate revenge. Even afterwards, as they're all sitting talking, Eleanor's anger can't help coming through in her thoughts. "I would like to hit her with a stick, Eleanor thought, looking down on Theodora's head beside her chair; I would like to batter her with rocks." We see the fraying not only of the relationship, but of Eleanor's mind. Suddenly she feels suddenly like an outsider, like someone who's apart from the others--she sees how they stare at her, how they scrutinize what she says, as odd things begin to slip out in her speech and she begins to wonder what she's been saying, how much she's been revealing of herself. **** Mrs. Montague is a wonderful character who bursts onto the scene in all her grand foolishness. But like Shakespeare's fools, she is perceptive in her own way--in this case, about Eleanor's relationship with her mother, which is one of Eleanor's dark secrets and which Mrs. Montague perceives after her session with planchette (a Ouija board). There's a dark horror at the heart of it, which we can't quite grasp, and it's all conveyed by this great fool, and so shot through with her bombastic comedy, that it leaves the reader unsure whether to laugh or cringe (or both). **** I will try not to give too much away of the ending. I'll just say that it's fascinating to watch Eleanor: her rage, her jealousy, her giddiness. How she perceives the other characters, how she watches them and listens to them and to the house itself, how she hurtles toward the end ("I am doing this all by myself, now, at last; this is me, I am really really really doing it by myself."). And then that amazing ending, recapitulating the opening, and that final word--"alone"--capturing a sense of the house as a sentient being much like Eleanor herself. Just breathtaking. A truly remarkable book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”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.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    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 sp 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 psychological novel (think Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper") and the horror of microsocieties doing their malignant will-type stories (think "The Lottery", as exceptional a short story as this is a superb haunted house prototype, an ingenious fountainhead for all future horror maestros to drink from). The haunted house is in actuality a person who is on the precipice, the verge of disaster; here is the quintessential tome about the inner demons becoming unleashed and wreaking havoc in horrific ways. A handsome legend, an essential myth. There would be significantly scant haunted house lore without this gothic gem. PS: EVERYONE, READ THIS FOR THE HOLIDAY*! *HALLOWEEN, AUTUMN HARVEST, SAMHEIN. Whatev.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    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 Heights as 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 Heights as far as the sense of emotional bleakness and dread that pervaded the narrative. I say this a good thangalang as I am a true fanboy of Wuthering Heights. I thought Shirl's writing style was smooth and glassy and had nice flow. It was also an utter mind-trip and I blew my whole thought-wad trying to keep up with her conflicting back and forth sense of "is it real or unreal” "is it genuine horror or psychological terror.” I admit by the end of this fairly short novel I was as drained and spent as a sailor on a weekend pass to Vegas. On the surface, this appears to be a classic haunted house story with a professor of the supernatural renting Hill House in order to investigate the mysterious phenomena rumored to have occurred within its oddly angled walls. Along with Dr. X-file, we have a Luke (one of the heirs to the house), Theodora and Eleanor. Eleanor is our troubled main protag who has had a happlyless life of playing recluse while taking care of her ungrateful mommie dearest. I don’t want to give away the plot so I will just say that almost immediately upon arriving at Hill House, the guests begin to experience “oddness” in the form of lost emotional control, muddled thinking, unusual feelings and unexplained sensations and occurrences...sort of like alcohol but no where near as pleasant. These events begin to wear on each of them, however, nothing overtly supernatural is shown to the reader. That is what was so yummy about the story is that Shirl leaves it up to the reader to determine what is really going on. One thing is very clear though…Hill House and people do not a good combination make and there is a growing sense of dread over the whole narrative from the very beginning. The terror is psychological (whether real or not) and the horror is all about atmosphere and “what if” rather than in your face. Makes of a chilling, intelligent tale. To sum up...a terrific gothic story. Well written, engaging and with what I thought was a Fergaluscious ending that fit perfectly with the rest of the narrative. I think this is a novel that could stay with you and should become even better upon subsequent readings. 4.0 to 4.5 stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    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 ❤ 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 ❤️

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    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 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 subsumed by an even less reliable narration) Needless to say, if you like subtle, amazing writing (an ending that, if you have any kind of human feelings, should tear your heart out); if you like well-drawn characters who are of their times and psychologically complicated (yes, educated people did actually talk wittily to each other in days of yore - it was called the art of conversation - now go tweet someone about that awful egg McMuffin[tm:] you just ate) and astonishing well-controlled pacing and suspense (what was chasing them on the black, black path with the white, white trees? I'm sure happy I wasn't told, as not knowing was much more effective) then just pick up a copy of this, one of the finest supernatural novels ever written, lock the house, light a candle and relax. And PAY ATTENTION, because every detail is important. And don't trust the narrator, because she can't trust herself. This isn't a typical, structured review for me - THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is too well known to tread the ground with a plot synopsis. I will add this little idea that came to me (and which I posted on over in the Horror boards): Since the house seems to not be "haunted" by a spirit, in a traditional "haunted house" way (it certainly doesn't seem to be manifesting something/someone specific), because it seems to be an entity unto itself ("Hill House, Hill House, Hill House" mocks Theo in a wonderfully subtle scene that proves her telepathy) and because of some comments made by Eleanor late in the book, when, nearly gone and identifying wholly with the house and not her friends, she refers to their "clumsy, heavy, roughness" - I started to wonder if the answer to the question "what haunts Hill House?" isn't maybe - Dr. Montague and his team of psychics! Hill House seems to be an entity unto itself and maybe it is irritated and pained by these weak, sensitive, emotional creatures infesting it and wants them out of the picture so it can continue to walk alone. An amazing book by an amazing writer. Respect it as much as Shirley Jackson respects you, the reader.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    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. Wow. 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 ridiculou 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. Wow. 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, little bullet of a brilliant novel that came out in 1959. I mean. . . could it be more current? More essential for all writers? More intriguing for anyone. . . anyone who loves to get lost in a story? Could it be more. . . wait for it. . . labyrinthine? (Never used that bad boy before, so, jazz hands). And Eleanor. . . Oh, Eleanor!! I belonged to Eleanor, and she to me, by page 3: Eleanor Vance was thirty-two years old when she came to Hill House. The only person in the world she genuinely hated, now that her mother was dead, was her sister. . . She could not remember ever being truly happy in her adult life; her years with her mother had been built up devotedly around small guilts and small reproaches, constant weariness, and unending despair. Sob and cringe, and who can't relate on some level to an adult who feels completely alone in this world? By the time Eleanor admits her truth to the small crowd at Hill House, she had my affection so completely, I had to put down the book, I was so moved by her honesty: I haven't any apartment. . . I made it up. I sleep on a cot at my sister's, in the baby's room. I haven't any home, no place at all. . . No home. Everything in all the world that belongs to me is in a carton in the back of my car. That's all I have, some books and things I had when I was a little girl, and a watch my mother gave me. So you see there's no place you can send me. The 1950s was a cruel time for a single female, and, frankly, it's not that much better now. A woman who can fit all of her possessions in one car and declares that a haunted house is the only place she belongs. . . Well, I cried right on the damn book. Oh, and in case you're wondering. . . yes, the story is scary as hell.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    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 reader witho 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 reader without a falsely satisfying conclusion. A very good story told by a very good writer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    The Sgt Pepper and the Citizen Kane of ghost stories.

  12. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    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 see it at the theater 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 e 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 see it at the theater 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 not. At this point, I had never read the original source material. As a matter of fact, this is the first time that I have read this 1959 classic. I finally decided to pick it up spurred on by the celebration of 'Women in Horror Fiction' month. I listened to this on audiobook and was able to get through it very quickly. It is a short book, at just under 200-pages, and the narrator was absolutely fabulous. I was so invested in this story, her voice was mesmerizing and seemed to transport me into that damn house! I think my early love of the film version, The Haunting really helped me to imagine the whole narrative. They did a great job in casting that film. Seriously, Lily Taylor WAS Nell. I loved Jackson's creation of her character. The mousy, sheltered girl who finally gains her freedom after what had to be a traumatic experience of years caring for her ailing mother. I know, I know. Meg, this is supposed to be a book review, but I couldn't write this review without mentioning that movie, as I know it has impacted my reading experience. I truly enjoyed this book. The build-up, the atmosphere and the suspense. I thought the supernatural, or alleged supernatural elements, were so well done. I had many spine-chilling, look over your shoulder moments with this and it was great. The characters interactions with one another were also well fleshed out. I believed their relationships and their connections to one another. Each feeling compelled to participate for their own, very different, reasons. I especially enjoyed the complex relationship between Nell and Theo. Then we get to the ending... Things were rolling along so nicely and then, POOF, we are finished. A friend of mine explained it as such, it's like she as writing this great book and then she just got tired of writing it. I agree with that completely. Done with this project, drops mic, exits. Even with this in mind though, I did really enjoy my time with this story. I may even revisit it again someday. This should be appreciated for the great piece of classic horror fiction that it truly is. It has influenced so many other stories and for that, I doff my cap to Shirley Jackson. A true pioneer in the genre.

  13. 4 out of 5

    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 a 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 supernatural manifestations, hears of the eerie Hill House and rents it for the summer, finding some people who have experienced paranormal events in their past and inviting them to join him for the summer as his “assistants”. Two women, Eleanor and Theodora, join him, along with Luke, who will inherit Hill House some day. The psychological exploration of the various characters who gather at the isolated Hill House was intriguing, especially Eleanor, the timid, disturbed young woman who is the main character. And Hill House seems to be finding those cracks in her psyche and exploiting them. There’s an interesting ambiguity in the title: is Hill House doing the haunting? Or is something haunting the house? (Or both?) It's got a lot of subtleties to it that impress me, the longer I think about it. Just don’t expect the Stephen King type of horror.

  14. 4 out of 5

    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 Hillcould 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 House compelling is the book's narrative voice: This house, which seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head back against the sky without concession to humanity. It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. With skillful use of descriptive words, the author repeatedly invokes negative associations with places or objects that are otherwise mundane: [The room] had an unpleasantly high ceiling, and a narrow tiled fireplace which looked chill in spite of the fire which Luke had lighted at once; the chairs in which they sat were rounded and slippery, and the light coming through the colored beaded shades of the lamps sent shadows into the corners. As far as chilling elements are concerned, the book offers very little in the way of supernatural events. The Haunting of Hill House is more readily a psychological thriller than a ghost story. To say the book conveys the descent into madness is to use too scintillating a phrase to describe the plot. The effect of Hill House on the various characters evolve subtly, with infinitesimal shifts in their psyches. Though it moves at a moderate pace, The Haunting of Hill House is a beautifully crafted tale about the dark corridors and locked rooms in the unconscious mind.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    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. Al 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 like caricatures to me rather than real people. There were some creepy parts, like Eleanor holding a hand in the dark that turned out not to be whose she thought, and Eleanor's descent into madness, but I was pretty bored most of the time. The status bar on my Kindle couldn't creep to the right fast enough. I'm giving it two stars now but I may re-read it in the future when I'm in the mood for such a story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Luvtoread

    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!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Char

    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 literat 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: "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."

  18. 4 out of 5

    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 eternal "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 eternal embrace and feel its presence slowly catching at you. "No Human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice." With a terse, imaginative prose, Jackson invokes an intellectually provocative, gothic, and atmospheric tale about a solitary house on a hill. Four impeccably flawed characters namely Eleanor Vance, Dr. John Montague, Theodora, and Luke Sanderson, are thrown into the twisted bowels of Hill House. What horrors lie there, no one claims to know, but what they are about to experience while inside that house is more than what the mind can actually comprehend. As paranormal occurrences and harrowing manifestations begin to surface, they are thrown into a sudden turmoil. Is this disturbance a product of the human mind, particularly, fear of the unknown, of knowing oneself, of uncovering the deepest, darkest parts of the unconscious? Are all of these spectral sightings real? Is this just a form of psychosis? Or perhaps, some form of psionic ability, that of psychokinesis? As ghastly as it might seem, there's a centrifugal force that drives the guests insane or is it only Eleanor, who has known isolation and seclusion throughout her whole life? Answers are not given and readers are challenged to deduce the meaning of this novel. “We have grown to trust blindly in our senses of balance and reason, and I can see where the mind might fight wildly to preserve its own familiar stable patterns against all evidence that it was leaning sideways.” The Haunting of Hill House is not horrifying per se, as most of you might expect. However, this perplexing literary wilderness is enough for you to witness and assess the capability of an unsound mind to conjure something sinister and diabolical that is sufficient to make one's blood run cold. The novel closes the way the narrative began. Perhaps, some kind of symmetry or something cyclical referring to an ancient emblematic dragon-serpent: Ouroboros — the "oneness" of the physical with the spiritual and perpetual cycle of destruction and formation, but that just might be my own interpretation. "Hill House itself, not sane, stood against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, its 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." Audiobook sample and comments: Read by Bernadette Dunne. Her perfect narration blends well with the mood and tone of the novel. A great audiobook!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    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 the pa 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 the paranormal or the supernatural? What makes it so fascinating even to those of us who don’t believe in it? Eleanor Vance isn’t sure she believes in it, and yet she agrees to spend a summer at an unoccupied house purported to be haunted. Eleanor reminds me of the unnamed narrator from Rebecca. She is insecure, introverted, and often finds herself fantasizing about her current and future situations. Dreams keep us sane, though, right? Or is the descent toward instability a more slippery path than we’d like to think? Eleanor is both intrigued by and simultaneously frightened by the concept of solitude. Being an introvert, some of her favorite fantasies involve being on her own, secluded from the unwelcome intrusion of others. But after a few nights in Hill House, maybe being alone isn’t such a grand idea. What induces fear in Eleanor and the other guests of Hill House is their inability to reconcile observed phenomena with fact-based logic at the moment it occurs. They encounter something for which an explanation cannot be immediately provided and their minds are unable to cope. So what happens when these unexplainable occurrences no longer induce fear? Has the fear been somehow conquered? Or is there something more sinister in the fact that the need to formulate logical explanation for the otherwise unexplainable is no longer pressing? Unlike this guy, I do not believe in spooks. But when the fight-or-flight response associated with fear is triggered in a secure setting—you are home with your significant other and the doors are locked, or you are at a Spooky World funhouse where you know the scares are manufactured—the adrenaline jolt can be a pretty fun thing to experience. And this book is a pretty fun thing to experience because Jackson’s choice to limit the perspective of the protagonist is effective at heightening the senses. Eleanor doesn’t always know what’s going on around her, so neither does the reader. Not only is the line between the living and the dead somewhat blurred, but so is the line separating Eleanor’s internal ventures from that which she perceives externally. It is suffocatingly frightful, I say. So for those who don’t believe in ghosts, how many of you would be willing to spend a few nights in a house considered haunted by restless spirits? After all, you don’t even believe in restless spirits, so what is there to be afraid of? Except, how would you feel if people refused to believe in you?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    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 cinematic vignett 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 cinematic vignettes, written in dense prose full of sharp images and strange turns of phrase. Fast-paced stretches of dialogue lace the story with wit, and break up the protagonist’s ominous musings about loneliness and desire. The novel is ridden with would-be symbols that resist clear-cut analysis: its true appeal lies in the eeriness of Jackson’s descriptions, the subtlety of her characterization, the suspense of her plot.

  21. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    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 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 that I hadn't read this, but I have played a game based on the novel. Just finding my way into the horror genre, but I can tell that Jackson's work set the tone for the best which followed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aoibhínn

    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 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 certainly does not deserve the reputation, of being one of the scariest horror novels, it has gotten. There are a few creepy, spooky scenes but not enough of them. I felt disappointed that there wasn't more scary stuff in it. I didn't like any of the characters and therefore found it hard to care about them. Eleanor was a paranoid, insecure pain in the ass, Theodora was an immature bitchy cow, and Luke was a boring conceited little wanker. I thought the dialogue, throughout the book, between the characters was very strange. I don't know if the author intended it to be like that or if the book is just incredibly out-dated. Did people actually talk like that back in the 1950's? It was very annoying and childish. The ending left a lot of unanswered questions. Was the house really haunted or was it all just in Eleanor's mind? This is one novel where the movie, or in this case movies, are better than the book. 2.5 stars!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Dawn

    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 he 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. I can definitely recommend it!

  24. 5 out of 5

    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 48. "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 48. It is a supernatural horror novel, a classic in the genre, although it is more likely to chill you to the marrow than to churn your stomach, relying more on terror rather than horror. There is some explicit horror, as well as much that is implied, but the blood is more likely to be running down the walls than gushing from dismembered body parts. The Haunting of Hill House owes much to Edgar Allan Poe, and is also in the tradition of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw". Stephen King has credited Shirley Jackson as a great influence on his writing, and other authors such as Neil Gaiman and Nigel Kneale also owe a lot to her work. The story revolves around four main characters, Dr. John Montague, Eleanor Vance - who is the shy viewpoint character - Theodora, a more confident independent young woman artist, and the irresponsible Luke Sanderson - the young heir to Hill House. Plus, of course, the house itself, which could be viewed as an evil, malevolent character. It has had a history of suicide and violent deaths, which Dr. Montague explains to the three young people, thereby nicely building up the tension in the novel. Hill House had been built 80 years earlier by an unpleasant individual named Hugh Crain, who seemed to delight in making the house's dimensions as twisted and contrary to what the human eye perceives as attractive design, as possible. "No Human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice." The brooding atmosphere is established right at the start. Dr. Montague has invited these three to spend the summer at Hill House as his guests, selecting them because of their past experiences with the paranormal, and renting the house knowing of its reputation for psychic disturbance and being "possessed". He is hoping to find scientific evidence of the existence of the supernatural. "Dr. John Montague was a doctor of philosophy; he had taken his degree in anthropology, feeling obscurely that in this field he might come closest to his true vocation, the analysis of supernatural manifestations. He was scrupulous about the use of his title because, his investigations being so utterly unscientific, he hoped to borrow an air of respectability, even scholarly authority, from his education." Although he is ostensibly an "expert", the reader is aware from this passage that Dr. Montague is really as green as the others about supernatural events. Thus the story is set up to be a tale of a group of innocents, set against powers of possibly unlimited evil. The reader enjoys their modern scepticism, their jokiness with each other, their repeated avowals that they do not believe anything awful could possibly happen in this ugly old house. And the reader waits. Because sure enough things do happen. This is a superbly crafted book, the suspense being being wound up in a tightly controlled way, whilst the novel stays very readable. The relationships between the four change. Their friendliness becomes mistrust. Jealousies and petty spites rear their heads. They no longer trust each other. There are many strange events and inexplicable experiences. But are they real? How can the material evidence of spiritual manifestations just disappear? Are they just imagination? Even the reader is less and less sure. Here is a description of young Eleanor, socially inexperienced and trying to finally break out of her mould, "She could not remember ever being truly happy in her adult life; her years with her mother had been built up devotedly around small guilts and small reproaches, constant weariness, and unending despair. Without ever wanting to become reserved and shy, she had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words." Is it significant that most of the phenomena is experienced by her? Are the others really oblivious, or just being kind? Is she perhaps losing touch with reality, and imagining these events? We only have Eleanor's view of the events and people after all, and this may be unreliable. Or does she subconsciously have a telekinetic ability which causes many of the disturbances? We know right at the start of the novel that she had been selected by Dr. Montague because of her early childhood experiences with episodes of poltergeist-like phenomena, although she has no memory of them. Even Eleanor herself wonders if she is responsible, "Now we are going to have a new noise, Eleanor thought, listening to the inside of her head; it is changing. The pounding had stopped, as though it had proved ineffectual, and there was now a swift movement up and down the hall, as of an animal pacing back and forth with unbelievable impatience, watching first one door and then another, alert for a movement inside, and there was again the little babbling murmur which Eleanor remembered; Am I doing it? She wondered quickly, is that me? And heard the tiny laughter beyond the door, mocking her." But then there is the house. They all feel the malevolence of the house, "It watches," he added suddenly. "The house. It watches every move you make." Is there something in the bricks and mortar? Is there a memory of past evils somehow imprinted in the walls? Is there a spirit or ghost in the house, or somehow attracted or conjured up by one of the party? When the tension is at its highest, and terror is finally taking over the characters, we are introduced to a new character. We have already had the dour housekeeper Mrs. Dudley, a creepy soul straight out of innumerable gothic novels, with her repeated mantra, "I clear breakfast at ten o'clock. I set on lunch at one. Dinner I set on at six. It's ten o'clock." Full of fear and ignorance, she nevertheless relishes what she sees as the young people's gradual acceptance and horror of what they had in their innocence initially scoffed at. She warns, with dark forboding, "We couldn't even hear you, in the night.... No one could. No one lives any nearer than town. No one else will come any nearer than that." "I know," Eleanor said tiredly. "In the night," Mrs. Dudley said, and smiled outright. "In the dark," she said..." Mrs. Dudley visits the novel regularly with her doom and gloom, but much later we have the visit of the doctor's wife which had been expected, and these episodes provide much-needed humour, dry wit and irony. It is a welcome contrast. Dr. Montague throughout tries to keep his scholar's attitude, as with his earlier contention, that, "Fear ... is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway." But as the inevitable conclusion is reached, the characters seem less and less in control. The ending is dramatic, and unexpected when it occurs. There have been red herrings; we expected drama and tragedy at various places, and there are still ambiguities. This by any standards is a very good read, but it is the reader's own imagination which provides much of the terror. The most frightening part of the book for me lay in the five simple words, "Whose hand was I holding?" because of the context in which they were written - because of what had gone before. It is a chilling and macabre story about the power of fear, and a large part of this fear is the fear anticipated by the reader. A reader who claims not to find it frightening probably has different expectations. Don't expect the author to describe physical torture, disembowelment, or gruesome entrails. She doesn't, and if this is what you seek in a horror novel you will be disappointed. If however you are intrigued by the psychological component, the nature of fright, the parameters of human sanity, the possibility - however remote - of the supernatural haunting of a house, then you will find this to be a very satisfying example of the craft. "Journeys end in lovers meeting; I have spent an all but sleepless night, I have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very air tastes like wine. I have been frightened half out of my foolish wits, but I have somehow earned this joy; I have been waiting for it for so long."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL USE ALLLLLLL OF YOUR DATA. GET THEE TO A REAL ‘PUTER OR AN UNLIMITED CELL PHONE PLAN BEFORE READING. My first official buddy read with the Non-Crunchy Cool Classic Pantsless ones . . . 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 than a scary one. It was most definitely NOT a work of “unnerving terrhttp://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/WARNING: Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL USE ALLLLLLL OF YOUR DATA. GET THEE TO A REAL ‘PUTER OR AN UNLIMITED CELL PHONE PLAN BEFORE READING. My first official buddy read with the Non-Crunchy Cool Classic Pantsless ones . . . 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 than a scary one. It was most definitely NOT a work of “unnerving terror” as the blurb would lead you to believe. Instead, it was the story of a group who have been brought together to determine whether the rumors of Hill House being haunted are true . . . But first – they have to get there . . . . Actually there was quite an abundance of showing and telling with respect to Winchester Mystery Hill House. If you aren’t a fan of hearing all there is to know about dimity drapes and enamel dishware, you might find yourself nodding off. Once the story got rolling, things did start going bump in the night. Or did they????? *dun dun DUNNNNNNN!* Was the paranormal to blame, or was it all just a result of being . . . The Haunting of Hill House didn’t quite stand the test of time like We Have Always Lived in the Castle did. However, it still wasn’t awful. I found the droll tone of all of the characters quite entertaining and at under 200 pages it was certainly a quick enough read – even with all of the sharing of the boring details. Stuff like: “Journeys end in lovers meeting.” I’m telling you - DO NOT take a drink every time you come across that f-ing phrase . . . Many thanks to the population from the Island of Misfit Toys for allowing me to join their ragtag group. The combination of me inviting myself to their party so late and the fact that keeping the Pantsless Ones on topic is kind of like herding cats has led me to not even being positive who is or isn’t reading this one. That being said, some of the people who may or may not be participating in this read are as follows . . . . Jeff (He read it wrong, so now he has to buy everyone ice cream.) Stepheny Delee The Real Dan Ron 2.0 Alissa (Note: This image was taken after the announcement of the release of Twilight 7.4 - This Time It's Personal.) Tadiana, Ginger, and Kristin Evgeny Christopher (Who has made it a point to read everything EXCEPT this book.) My apologies to anyone I failed to mention and many thanks for allowing me to crash the party (and also to my curmudgeonly friendly book provider). Up next???? The Turn of the Screw. Hehehehehe SCREW.

  26. 4 out of 5

    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 spi 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 experiment, and the terrors unfurl from there. The reader is invited to view this world through Eleanor's eyes. As the most fragile and overwrought member of the group, her rising fear affects the reader's, until both are bonded in their mounting dread of what is to occur around the next corner and over the next page. Jackson expertly controls her characters into revealing none of the facts before suspense has been allowed to build to an all-time maximum, and that is truly where the excellence of this novel lays. My first encounter with Jackson's writing was in her short story collection, Dark Tales. I found the open-ended nature of the tales contained within entirely infuriating. Here, a similar tactic is deployed and yet I found it be ultimately the novel's prowess and not its failure. There is an allure and an added fear of never really knowing where the truth in this narratives lies. This is what has continued to haunt me long after finishing this book and what makes me already eager to return and unearth the facts amongst the many deceptions. Hill House, with its chill, atmospheric setting, enthralled me from the first page and didn't let go until the very last. The setting works in tandem with the alluring yet untrustworthy cast of characters to delivering a truly chilling piece of literature that will have you fearful of the shadows for many a night to come, after reading this.

  27. 5 out of 5

    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 s 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 perspective and perception, leaving us unsettled and on-edge as we wonder what’s happening. The story focuses on Eleanor, a very sheltered and increasingly fragile young woman whose presence is requested during an exploration party of the famous (and supposedly haunted) Hill House. Eleanor is the perfect narrator in a cast of interesting characters, largely because she’s so ill-equipped for ghost hunting. She longs for adventure, but seems to have always been held back by a combination of family and intense social anxiety, and as spooky things start happening, Eleanor’s distrust of the others increases on every page. But are her fears founded, or does her terror make her unreliable? Written almost 60 years ago, Jackson wisely tapped into the public’s fascination with horror stories as the whole story is delightfully self-aware. Eleanor and her companions are familiar with the structure of friends-staying-in-a-haunted-house and consistently preparing for tropes the same as we are. They expect a member to turn, they know splitting up is a bad idea, and they certainly don’t go running after creepy noises in the basement. It’s far more unnerving when you realize the characters are just as capable and aware as the reader. In Conclusion: I still have some questions, but I think that’s the nature of the book. This was exciting and creepy and the perfect read for Halloween.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Evgeny

    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 review with some images: A couple of comments for the pictures above follow. All the depicted places 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 review with some images: A couple of comments for the pictures above follow. All the depicted places are real. These real-life pictures are much scarier than the book. Sorry about the following rant related to book blurbs. I saw blurbs that completely gave away the content the entire book, including the last page. I saw blurbs that had no connection whatsoever with the books they were supposed to describe. I saw blurbs related to the book somehow, but their writers had genres of literature mixed up in their heads - like a blurb appropriate for a romance novel on a hard science fiction one. This is probably the first case when the blurb was lying. ...a perfect work of unnerving terror. Ladies and gentlemen, there were scarier moments in classic Scooby-Doo cartoons than in here. There are a couple of creepy moments, but they are way too brief to be really scary. I admit I have not seen the movies based on the novel and it might have affected my judgment. Then again what kind of book lover would I be had I allowed my perception of a movie change my opinion of its original material? I am sure every single book club would politely but firmly kicked me out in the street in such case. I provide the brief description of the plot for people unfamiliar with the book and movies. A professor studying occult found what seemed to be the perfect haunted house to conduct his research in. He selected several people to help him in this undertaking - using a somewhat dubious selection criterion, I might add. The book is about - unsurprisingly - their experiences in the house. I will give you a hint: it is haunted. From my impression whatever haunts it is too lazy to do real good old-fashioned spooky stuff. A big part of the appeal of spooky ghost stories is mysterious supernatural phenomenon; something which cannot be explained. For me the whole atmosphere of the book was killed the moment the Doctor tried to rationalize goings-on in the house and the explanation was believable enough for me to accept it. No mystery - no spookiness: it is simple as this. A house itself was undeniably gloomy, but gloomy is not equal to scary in my book. Ms. Jackson seems to be confused about this. Please see Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake for the description of gloomy and scary place; I am not a big fan of the book, but he really nailed it in this department. One feature which I noticed right away is the lack of description of the characters. All we know about the Doctor is that he is round, another character is lovely and we really have no clue whatsoever about the appearance of the POV character. Speaking about the latter, her development was somewhat unbelievable. Look into The Shining by Stephen King for a better example of the same themes - by the way I would be the first to admit King drew heavy inspiration from The Haunting of Hill House for his work. The end was a little disappointing as well with one extremely brain-dead decision which ended up in a very predictable way. My verdict is the following: the novel is just OK, on the lower end of OK spectrum. A lot of people that wrote glowing reviews for the novel said you need to be really smart to see all the nuances of the writing. To this I can only answer, "You now know my biggest darkest secret: I am as dumb as a hammer".

  29. 5 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    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!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    There is much evidence of what a great wordsmith Shirley Jackson was in this book, for example; in her description of the dour gardener and housekeeper, Mr and Mrs. Dudley: "Her apron was clean, her hair was neat, and yet she gave an indefinable air of dirtiness, quite in keeping with her husband, and the suspicious sullenness of her face was a match for the malicious petulance of his." I love the dual adjectives to describe them. Comedy and horror are two of the most difficult things to wr There is much evidence of what a great wordsmith Shirley Jackson was in this book, for example; in her description of the dour gardener and housekeeper, Mr and Mrs. Dudley: "Her apron was clean, her hair was neat, and yet she gave an indefinable air of dirtiness, quite in keeping with her husband, and the suspicious sullenness of her face was a match for the malicious petulance of his." I love the dual adjectives to describe them. Comedy and horror are two of the most difficult things to write and Jackson does them both at the same time. She is a master of psychological horror the kind that gets inside you and won't let go.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.