Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson

The readathon happened (a month ago, I know. Get off my back), which means I have books that aren't Harry Potter that I can talk about. Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House was the first book I picked up that Saturday morn', and it was perfect. 

In the book, four people seeking evidence of supernatural manifestations take up in Hill House, hoping to analyse the paranormal events that are rumoured to be common in this sprawling, eery estate. These four people are Dr. Montague, who is running the study; Luke, who will inherit Hill House; Theodora, a light-hearted, narcissistic artist-type; and Eleanor, an isolated, sad woman "with a dark past." 

The story itself feels familiar: it's been remade in various movies, including the unintentionally hilarious 1999 incarnation featuring Lili Taylor as Eleanor.

That is not a scared face. That is a "Here comes the airplane!" face.

I liked the movie for its silliness, but the book, my friends. The book was not silly. It was an exceptionally satisfying horror story, with lots of atmospheric build up that actually led to STUFF-IS-HAPPENING moments. I love atmosphere in a horror story, it's necessary, but you've got to get somewhere terrifying with it. Got to get to the scary pay off.

I want to make this series of faces at least one time.

I had to stop and read scenes aloud to Neil more than a few times, let me tell you.

So, read Hill House if you're looking for an excellently crafted horror book, a quick read, a good ol' time. 

16 comments:

  1. I read this book because people were all THERE'S LESBIANS IN IT and then I was like NO NO THERE ARE NOT.

    Like if you stretch it there's mayyyybe subtext. Kind of. But weirdo subtext. Overall I liked We Have Always Lived in the Castle more, but I'm just not a fan of Jackson's writing.

    That being said, I haven't read The Lottery. Which seems to be her big thing.

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    1. The Lottery is reaaaaally good. But then I am A Fan of Jackson's (OBVIOUSLY, because you are not) soooo maybe that helped with that.

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    2. SHE'S A GOOD WRITER I JUST DON'T LIKE HER WRITING STYLE

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    3. I did not get any of the subtext between Eleanor and Theodora, but I got boats of it between Theodora and her "roommate." BOATS.

      I must read the Lottery. And We Have Always Lived in the Castle. ALL THE SHIRLEY JACKSON.

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  2. I need to read this because I keep hearing excellent things about it (and terrible things about that movie)

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    1. It was so gooood, Alley. So good. Spooktacular, even.

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  3. *shifts uncomfortably as she remembers she hasn't reviewed Eleanor and Park yet* Anyway! This book! Yes! All the tension and the weirdness and ooooh, what is even happening, and also is ANYTHING happening, and just ugh, I loved it/was terrified by it. Which is the best way to react to a book, I reckon. *goes off and reads some Stephen King, natch*

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    1. *shifts in sympathy because she hasn't reviewed it either* We'll get to it.

      Also, riiiiiight?!? So wonderful. And I really need to read more King. I loved IT times a billion. Maybe Carrie next? Maybe.

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  4. I have only read The Lottery and had no idea that she wrote a horror story! Thanks for the review, I've been looking for a scary book to read!

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    1. Apparently this "Lottery" thing is a big deal! I'll have to read it. The Haunting of Hill House really is a fun, scary book. But read it when the sun's out, dear god.

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    2. You can get The Lottery (and other short stories) for about $3 on Kindle at the moment. I've had it sitting there calling to me for a month or two now.

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    3. @Kayleigh: Hahahaha no way! I'm masochistic. The best way to read them is under the blanket, in the dark, with a flashlight, heh heh

      @Kayleigh Murphy: sweet!... wait, I don't have a kindle :'(

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    4. Kindle app it! It depends on your phone and computer, but you should be able to get the app so you can read all the ebooks you like.

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  5. Your play by play of this book on Twitter and in your readathon posts were the best advertisement I've ever seen to read this book, so read it I shall. I think I've seen the movie, but I'm pretty sure it was at a slumber party (oh man, remember those!) so any details have been completely lost.

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    1. Ah, slumber parties. I watched House on Haunted Hill (which I am forever mixing up with The Haunting) at a slumber party. That movie sucked too, but it also scared me an indescribable amount.

      Read it! It's fun. If you're thinking of doing the October readathon (because who doesn't plan their reading events months in advance?), I'd definitely suggest this one.

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  6. Ah, yay to this book. It is the spookiest haunted house book maybe ever. When I read it I feel sad that Shirley Jackson did not write sixteen or twenty-six novels instead of only six.

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