Book Reviews

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill HouseTitle: The Haunting of Hill House
Author: Shirley Jackson
Rating: ★★★★

The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. 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.

Stopping myself from finishing Season 1 of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix, I decided I ought to read the book first, especially since it came in the September 2019 OwlCrate box.

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.

Dr. Montague, a scholar, invites Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke to Hill House to “test” how gifted people react to the supernatural events the house has to offer. While many more were invited, only three show up.

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.

Honestly, I was looking for more of a spooky atmosphere coming from the novel that helped define the genre. At one point, I was too afraid to continue on with the novel, but most of the time I felt it was a little boring and I wanted more ghostly action.

Possibly what I enjoyed most about the novel was the ambiguity of the “supernatural” events happening. Did a visitor perform them or were they actually supernatural? Personally, Mrs. Dudley was by far the creepiest thing about the novel.

From watching part of the Netflix series, I definitely found that more interesting and detailed. However, it was nice to get inside Eleanor’s head in the novel.

Journeys end in lovers meeting.

The Haunting of Hill House is a story of one’s own interpretation, mystery, and offers the chance to be reread and interpreted differently every time.

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