The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

About half way through this book I wasn’t sure I was liking it much. It started ok but there still didn’t seem like much was happening and considering this is such a short book that is not a good thing. However things started picking up and I really enjoyed the rest of it.

We only have the one POV, Eleanor, a fairly young woman who has not had much interaction in the world due to taking care of her mother for years. Then we have Dr Montague, a paranormal researcher who pulled the group together, Theodora a young bohemian type character and finally Luke, the rakish heir to the house. Dr Montague pulled the group together deliberately to do some active research in a haunted house and as soon as they arrive things get pretty weird almost instantly.

It all sounds fairly stereotypical doesn’t it? Well I am not well versed in the horror genre both in the written and visual mediums but even I thought it all seemed rather generic. But since this was written in the 50’s I think it is not surprising in that a lot of these ideas have been used again and again and so to me they seem tropey but at the time I am sure they were quite original.

The writing style was strange, in a good way. Seemed to drift from an almost scientific style to quite abstract, maybe to show how the mind of our protagonist was changing? I’m still not quite sure what happened at the end, it got quite strange and I wasn’t sure what was ‘real’ and what wasn’t, again I’m sure that was the point. I actually got a little creeped out in places which was pretty cool, very rare that that happens.

I loved the character of Eleanor, she started out so naive (and really stayed that way) but I was hoping her plan to become a new person would work out. The interactions between the different people was great and it’s only as the book got going that you realise that things aren’t probably exactly as Eleanor sees them, she’s not being honest with herself or with you the reader. Really well done.

I’ve only a few criticisms which stopped it being a 5 stars. As I mentioned it takes a bit to get going which I usually don’t mind but in such a short book it was a bit of an issue. I also didn’t like when Mrs Montague and Arthur arrived. Both provided an almost comic relief which I don’t think was necessary but I suppose their purpose was to show how strange our four main characters had become. So overall a pretty good book, with some genuinely creepy moments and great character development.

4 stars out of 5

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