Is it really haunted? – “The Haunting of Hill House”, by Shirley Jackson

Before we start with the review, note that it contains some spoilers. So, if you haven’t read the book, you should probably close¬†this¬†window!

Having said that, I’d like to declare myself as a lover of classic horror and mystery. That being said, I find the idea of old haunted mansions, abandoned hospitals, psychiatrics and cemeteries, the perfect setting for a scary novel. And Shirley Jackson’s novels seem to be the perfect fit for me.

Ghosts, poltergeists or mentally ill people are the perfect characters that include my ideal novel, so in this case, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that we have a few of these things: Hill House and Eleanor Vance.

What is it about then?

In this novel, we follow a few characters that meet at Hill House for an experiment they were invited to. They don’t know each other, and they are supposed to spend the summer in that creepy, old, haunted house. We also have an “adorable” Mr. and Mrs. Dudley, who happen to be the caretakers of the house. They look suspicious from minute one, and it seems that it might lead to a point somewhere in the book, but it doesn’t. That is something I really missed in the novel.

Could it be that they act so strange because they are possessed by spirits? Who knows… It is surely left to the reader’s imagination.

Luke is the future owner of Hill House, who has to be there because the actual owner, his aunt, wants a member of the family to be there at all times. This character just gives a hand when needed, but it doesn’t do much to the story.

Then we have Theodora, who is a young woman that I felt sympathy for at the beginning but by the time the book keeps going on, I start to dislike her a little bit, because it doesn’t feel like she is a very reliable person. But then again, it is probably the house’s fault.

There’s something about her that I dislike, but I don’t know what it is…

Dr. Montague is the person that sets all this in motion. He is the one who contacted the others and asked them to come to Hill House. What he believes is only an experiment that would end up as a couple of scares and a new theory, ends up being something that he decides to call off after a week, because of the potential threat that means staying in that house any longer. Unfortunately, he makes his decision too late, and our main character ends up in a really bad situation.

We also have Dr. Montague’s wife and Arthur, who accompanies Mrs. Montague to the house the first weekend after the others move in. She is very interested in Hill House as she considers herself a “medium”. They are quite despicable. The way they treat the others shameful, which made me get angry every time I read something they said.

Finally, we have our beloved Eleanor Vance, our damsel in distress. We read the book from her perspective and so, we know what she is thinking all the time. Therefore, from the moment she arrives at Hill House, we see how she becomes more and more paranoid with the others, she starts seeing and hearing things no one else can, and she is the one who end up (presumably) dead. She gets in the car and drives away from the property, but ends up crashing her own (actually her sister’s) car on purpose.

We don’t really know if she ends up dead, or just badly injured, but what we do know, is that she should have left sooner.

Lately, there is a lot of fuss about this book, probably because of Netflix’s TV Show. I’ve had this book in my to-read list for so long so, after seeing so many good opinions on the book, I decided to finally read it. And I have to say, I liked it. I really did. But I expected more of this Jackson’s novel. A couple of years ago I read “We have always lived in the castle” and I liked it more.

But still, I’ll read more books of her because she uses the kind of scary that I like.

Click here if you want to buy the book!
And if you are interested in discovering more scary books, feel free to read about Asylum!

See you in the next post!
Mireia

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