Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics), The

Shirley Jackson
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.  

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-08-19
I loved this, like everything Shirley Jackson writes. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is still my favorite, but this one is wonderful too.
Reviewed: 2021-07-05
Okay, didn't love the way it was written and was eager for a twist that never came.
Reviewed: 2020-10-08

This story had its moments. I didn't find it to be scary per say but it was creepy with the atmosphere and with the hauntings. Plot wise, I thought the author did a nice job. Was a good and believable plot device with an interesting climax. Character wise, I couldn't stand Eleanor. I thought she was annoying, over the top naïve and infuriating. Some of the other characters were okay but still not overly enthusiastic about them. The writing style was a bit slow and I think that it hurt the execution. Overall, I don't regret looking into it.

Reviewed: 2015-11-28
This might not be a book to read late at night if you have an active imagination.

Have you ever been in an old house and felt some strange energy? The feeling of eyes on you while your back is turned? Of unexplained sounds, shadows, or smells? Older houses can have a sense of presence that isn't found in newer homes, whether it be from the residual energy of the lives lived in it over the years, or a collection of old items filled with memories. Welcome to Hill House, perfectly drawn with a turret, doors and windows that shut on their own, mazes of rooms, and an oppressive presence around every corner.

A classic story of psychological terror, the Haunting of Hill House tells the tale of an old mansion which holds many secrets. Supernatural researcher Dr. Montague rents Hill House in an attempt to prove, or disprove, the claims of a haunting. He invites a collection of people who have been rumored to have past experience with the supernatural, but only 2 join him: Eleanor Vance, a shy woman who has spent her life caring for her invalid mother until she passed away, and Theodora, a free-spirited, bohemian artist. They are all joined by Luke Sanderson, the heir to Hill House and who must be present as part of the terms of the lease.

Soon after arriving, Eleanor and company begin having unexplainable experiences. Whether or not all of these events are supernatural is left up to the reader to decide, but the circumstances seem to be centered around Eleanor, and the book is very much about her and her journey. Gothically dark and spooky, Jackson takes us on a ride full of twists and turns, and it all culminates is an ending that leaves you wondering, but is still strangely satisfying.
Reviewed: 2015-09-30
The classic status of this novel in the haunted house genre kind of mystifies me. I'd not consider it one of Jackson's best, the haunting is rather tepid even by the standards of the time period. The characters are all intensely flakey and suddenly very familiar with each other. Within a day of meeting these four total strangers, they all feel familiar enough with each other to start making the kinds of personality critiques I'd not make until I'd known someone for months at the very shortest. "Always have to be the center of attention," one male character says, intended not unkindly, to the face of a woman he met that week. Predictable, not terribly scary even as a psychological portrait of a person falling apart, and then with a last page "twist" as its climax.

Four unpleasant people go to a haunted house and not much happens and then two more even more unpleasant visitors arrive, so no one in the book is terribly sympathetic.
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