Pages: 182 pages
Published: November 28th 2006 (first published 1959)
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Genre: Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers
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.
Don’t let the title fool you. Shirley Jackson’s popular tale, The Haunting of Hill House, is more than just a spooky house with supernatural happenings. It is about the fear that lives within us, how we at times allow fear, whether the rush excites or cripples us, can take over our lives. And Jackson, master of horror, manages to capture her readers in a classic story that captivates us and terrifies us, all at the same time.
I have always been in love with Jackson’s writing style, ever since I first read The Lottery. Her writing style is unlike most modern writers. She has you guessing throughout the entire story. Is it real or unreal? Are these events really happening or is it all in the characters mind? Jackson is doing two things: having you question everything you are being told and ending the story in a shocking climax. And believe me, you won’t see the ending coming.
Jackson uses personification beautifully in this book. I really felt Hill House was a character of in its own right. The house caused all of the characters to act differently. It brought a completely different side of them, especially the main protagonist, Eleanor. The haunting of the house, whether you believe them to be true or not, allows the reader to focus more on the psychological aspects than whether or not a ghost is going to pop out behind the closet door.
Eleanor is just such a fascinating character. Her inner dialogues make such analysis. She keeps going back forth on her mental stability. At first, she admires Theodora and wants to be her best friend and at the next opportunity, she’s jealous of her and wants to “hit her with a stick”. Her mental instability is a constant catalyst for most of the events that occur. Eleanor’s anxiety and paranoia oozes from Jackson’s writing, which adds to the real haunting of hill house.
This is not you run of the mill ghost story. Jackson’s stories make you sit down and think when you are done. So if you are looking for a real supernatural story, this isn’t it. However, I still suggest to give this one a read. This story requires us to think outside the box, which, in this case, is not a bad thing. This eerie and spooky tale will have you fall in with Shirley Jackson’s writings and drive you to read more.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars