Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality ..."

After reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle last year, I wanted to read another Shirley Jackson book this year. I chose The Haunting of Hill House because others have been enjoying it and because they had a copy available at the library. I had seen the 1999 film version, The Haunting, a few years back. Luckily I didn't remember much about it because they weren't very similar. This book was definitely a psychological thriller versus a gory, violent one.

A paranormal researcher selects a small group of people to accompany him to Hill House, a place built slightly off-kilter and with an inherent aura of gloom and despair. The professor, Dr. Montague, is hoping that a successful encounter with the spirit in the house will finally bring him the reputation he has been craving for years. Eleanor Vance is recovering from eleven years of nursing a demanding mother and so sees the chance to finally have an experience that is all her own. Theodora, a possible "sensitive", is high-spirited and makes a last-minute decision to join the group. Finally, Luke Sanderson is the future heir of Hill House and is joining the group as a condition of their being on the property. These four people bring their own shortcomings with them to the house but none are as severe as the issues the house already has inside its walls.

As you can guess, I chose this book as another read for the R.I.P. Challenge. From other people's reviews, I thought this would be a much scarier read than it turned out to be. I personally thought it was more disturbing than scary. It definitely fit in with what I expected from Shirley Jackson though. She specializes in exploring emotions and reactionary behavior in different situations. It's incredible to me how much depth she is able to fit into her novellas and short stories. I will definitely be reading more of her works soon -- perhaps with a re-read of The Lottery because I haven't read it since high school.

Comfortable in my house with no history,

Support our site and buy The Haunting of Hill House on Amazon or find it at your local library. We borrowed our copy from the library.


  1. are just ripping up this RIP challenge aren't you? This is so up your alley. Perhaps a little Shirley Jackson read-a-thon is in my future.

  2. My house was built in 1926, and my husband keeps trying to tell me that we have a ghost. I'm pretty sure he's just teasing, but who knows.

  3. I've read some of Jackson's short stories (and loved), but I've never read one of her books. Sad, huh?? I need to remedy that. This one sounds right up my alley.

  4. Jenners -- Yes, it is indeed right up my alley. ;) Few things are!

    J.T. -- Do you have ghostly evidence yet or just a hunch?

    Andi -- Yes, you definitely should read some of her books too! They're not all that long either so it's just like an expanded short story.

  5. Isn't she wonderful? I want to read some of her lesser known books but I wonder if I will like them as much as these two. Unfortunately I also saw the remake of the movie, which I thought was awful. I almost gave up on the book as I had too many silly visuals in my head, but thankfully the book, as you mention, turned out to be quite different than the movie. I think I almost like this one more then We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but that's a hard call.

  6. Danielle - That's always a worry, isn't it? And the movie *was* awful. I hate when Hollywood feels that everything needs to be violent to be interesting.

  7. Oh rats! I was going to watch the movie. Maybe I won't - but I like the sound of the book.

  8. This is one of the books that have been sitting on my TBR pile for a while now and I cannot wait to read it!!! Hopefully, I will finally get to it soon!!