The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959) – a review

The Haunting of Hill House

Original 1959 review by H.G. Rogers from Literary Guidepost of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson:  Way off in the hills at the end of a lonely road behind a locked gate stands Hill House. Eighty years old, the sprawling place with a tower, countless rooms, and doors upon doors upon doors, has been the scene of several deaths. The scared people in the nearby village avoid it like a nighttime graveyard.

Dr. Montague, student of ghosts and their goings-on, rents the building, invites a young man and two girls to stay with him and try to catch a spook. They are Luke, heir to the property, and Theodora and Eleanor, both with some psychic experiences. They will be joined by Mrs. Montague and a friend who works a planchette in anticipation of messages from the spirit world.

We have alwasys lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson

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A surly pair of caretakers gets this odd house party off to a creepy start, and then in the quiet of the night the gremlins come banging down, thumping deafeningly on the walls and then softly, murderously feeling along with them with their fingertips. Doors close with no one to close them, deadly cold drafts blow with no lace to blow from,  mysterious presences flutter by unseen.

Miss Jackson isn’t saying right out that she believes in ghosts, but she does say: People who are bound to see ghosts see them, and what they think they see can hurt them.

As between her children, about whom she has written, and her ghosts, I prefer, literally, the ghosts, and the loudest and most terrifying “boo” utter in contemporary fiction was sounded in her short story, “The Lottery.” This novel gives you some queasy moments, but the climax is not one of them.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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