Sunday, 23 October 2016

Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackon

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.

This book is quite wonderfully written as is all books by Jackson. Being a book from 1959 the language is so far from modern day that it is a nice break, though at times a little confusing. The way people behave and speak within this book is far different to anything else I have read.
More than just a tale of a haunted house is depicts the descend into a kind of madness for the main character.
If you are already a lover of eerie tales are very familiar with a writing style similar to that from the 1950's then I would recommend this book to you.
I had previously seen the film- The Haunting (orignal AND remake)- although at the time of reading I couldn't really remember what had happened but as I carried on reading I suddenly remembered the ending and the explanation.  So I went through this book with that in mind but actually you do not get that same explanation that you get from the 1999 version of the film so I would suggest if you haven't watched the film already to read the book first.
The book did confuse me in some ways as I did think  I was going to be reading more of a haunted house book, so when you go into this book keep in mind that that is only part of the story.
This book is only 247 pages but it did take me a week to read. It wasn't something I was much too excited to read although I did enjoy as I read it. After reading such fast-paced spooky books just before this one I did find this book to be somewhat slow, however on reflection it's not that the book was slow it was that it was enriched with so much detail, so much character building which is so important for this book because, as well as the spooky house element, the main feature of this book is the main character and descend into a kind of madness and obsession and the relationship between her and the strangers around her.

I rate this book around a 3.5 only because I didn't feel it was much about the haunting of the house as I thought it would be but in terms of writing, description, structure- you can't fault Shirley Jackson.

My friend Sarah and I have made a Facebook group strictly for discussions and social media of all things book related! Feel free to come along and request to join over at Bookish Worms


  1. Sounds like the perfect book for this time of year! Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithMe

  2. Very timely for Halloween. I haven't come across this author or seen the film #readwithme

  3. Umm, I'm not a lover of scary books. This is one I'll probably steer clear of. Thanks for sharing