Title: The Haunting of Hill House
Author: Shirley Jackson
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness withing; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.”
The characters names and a few snippets of dialogue seemed to feel slightly familiar to me, so I think at some point in my life I may have watched a movie adaptation of this book? I can’t really recall, other than the vague sense of deja vu that I experienced while reading. In any case, if I did at some point watch the movie, it wasn’t memorable enough for me to recollect much about it, where in the case of the book I have a feeling that I will never forget it. This novel is a perfect example of something that you don’t see being much scarier than anything that you see face to face. Small hands in the dark, loud knocks and banging, psychological instability; these are all aspects of the story that will terrify the ever loving crap out of you, especially if you are reading it at night (like my dumb ass decided to do). There are no monsters, no serial killers, no aliens; this is just a good old fashioned, scarier than hell ghost story.
One aspect that really sold it for me was that despite the ghosts and strange events that take place at Hill House, the most interesting aspect of the story was the characters, particularly Eleanor. She has very poor self esteem, is a pathological liar, and tends to focus more on the fantastic rather than the reality. She is absolutely fascinating. You know as the reader that you can’t trust her, or believe in everything that she says, yet you can’t help but feel sorry for her and feel completely drawn into her story.
The other aspect that made me love this story was the way the author personified Hill House itself as a character. It reminded me so very much of Rebecca, by Daphne Du Marier, where Manderly becomes a character more important and impressive than the human characters. Reading the first line of this book gave me shivers because it reminded me of that other novel and that was when I knew I was in for a treat.
This was a great book, although at 176 pages I wish it was longer, I didn’t want it end!