Monday, 10 June 2013

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (4/5)

First published: 1959
Page count: 182

The back says: Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House; Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Luke, the adventurous future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with chilling, even horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

I say: I don’t like thrillers or horror stories, so I am not sure why I even decided to buy this – let alone read it – but I managed to get through it, which is a triumph in itself. I have to admit, though, that I started reading it at night and had to give up and finish it during the day.

Yes, it freaked me out that much (but I am terrified of ghosts).

The plot was simple enough: four people go to a haunted house and mysterious things start happening that freak them all out – and me too. Then comes the surprise, but at the same time not so surprise, ending and I pat myself on the back for finishing the story and actually start looking at buying more of Jackson’s works.
It was that captivating.

The prose was very riveting and I scared myself half to death a few times. It’s been a long time since I read (or watched) any horror/thriller and maybe it’s just me being excessively anxious, but I thought this was a perfect haunted house story. It has been made into film twice, but I doubt that I’ll even watch any of them.

So, 4/5 because there were a few things about the plot and characters that slightly annoyed me and that I can’t address without spoiling the novel. I would like to read more of Jackson’s work – during the day, of course – because I really liked her way of slowly unfurling the story and then producing an end that was both expected and surprising.


  1. I LOVED The Haunting of Hill House loads when I read it! I read Stephen King all the time so I'm sort of kind of used to the horrorness at this point, but with this, I didn't really think I was scared UNTIL I heard this noise from downstairs and I nearly jumped out of my skin! It was kind of awesome, albeit, you know, terrifying.

    1. I used to love Stephen King in my teens, but earlier this year I re-watched The Shining for uni and it didn't affect me out as much as it used to be. But SK never really freaked me out the way THOHH did. This was the same terror I felt when watching Poltergeist (which, along with Nightmare on Elm St, are the only horror films that made me lose sleep).

      I applaud Jackson because finish it made me feel brave, and never feel brave anymore.

  2. I'm not usually one for ghost stories either but I'm curious about this one because I've seen it raved about before a lot and now your review makes me want to try it even more. Maybe I'll save it up for around Halloween when I'm in the mood for something scary/creepy!

    1. Yeah, it's a good story, even if you're not freaked out by ghosts (which I am). Around Halloween sounds like a great idea; it has all those perfect elements for it. I prefer during summer when it never really gets dark here in Sweden...