Thursday, 6 December 2018

Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This is a book with a huge legacy. Written by one of the finest authors of gothic horror of her generation, adapted for the big screen twice and now a hugely successful Netflix series, endorsed by Stephen King, and reprinted as a Penguin Modern Classic, there are very few people who would not have heard of The Haunting of Hill House. 

And it is not difficult to see why.

At a mere 246 pages this is a quietly intriguing tale of a group who are invited to stay for the summer at Hill House by Dr Montague, a man with a keen interest in paranormal activity and its (possible) effect on the human mind. Joining him are Luke, the caddish nephew of the owner of Hill House, Theodora, an artist who likes to live life to the fullest and Eleanor a painfully shy and oppressed woman who has spent most of her adult life caring for her sick mother. Over the course of the next week, the guests begin to experience strange happenings at the house, all of which implicate Eleanor in some way. Is the strangely designed Hill House truly haunted (as the locals and the formidable housekeeper seems to think,) or is Eleanor an attention seeker with a telekinetic ability?

While it would be easy to dismiss this one as just another ghost story, its genius lies in the writing. Jackson carefully offers the reader the evidence and then allows them to make up their own mind--and all whilst making Eleanor the lead character. 

Brilliantly done, this one is sure to appeal to fans of gothic horror from across the globe. 

Highly recommended.