Review: The Haunting of Hill House

TITLE: The Haunting of Hill House
AUTHOR: Shirley Jackson
PUBLICATION: 1999 by Penguin
FORMAT: Paperback


Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own.


I love the opening paragraph of The Haunting! In fact, I adore most of Ms. Jackson’s prose throughout this novel. I took my time reading this book because I wanted to savor it as much as possible. The way she makes Hill House a very real character in the story is great and chilling because I think a creepy old house would send me running in the opposite direction. Or maybe I’d feel right at home there, I don’t know. Some houses are born bad, and Hill House is very bad. This novel has that delicious build-up of horror that we come to expect of a traditional ghost (or horror in general, I suppose) story. I loved it.

One might say it’s also something of Eleanor’s coming-of-age even though she’s in her early thirties, but so much of her youth has been spent taking care of her ailing mother that she failed to live as a normal person rather than a personal nurse. The little fantasies that Eleanor has as she’s driving to Hill House are the charming daydreams of an adolescent just getting a taste of their world. I love Eleanor, such a little rabbit in the world but I think we’d be the best of friends and enjoy our little fantasies.

It’s been a very long time since I last read this book. I’m glad that I took the time out this weekend of stressing over my TBR pile to revisit an old friend. In fact, it’s safe to say that I enjoyed reading this book more the second time around. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it during our first meeting, but this second date develops our relationship something more akin to love.



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