- Series: Penguin Classics
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (November 28, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143039989
- ISBN-13: 978-0143039983
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 951 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 28, 2006
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From the Publisher
"[One of] the only two great novels of the supernatural in the last hundred years.” —Stephen King
"The scariest book I’ve ever read." —Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
"The books that have profoundly scared me...are few....But Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House beat them all...It scared me as a teenager and it haunts me still."—Neil Gaiman, author of Norse Mythology
About the Author
Shirley Jackson (1919–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote many stories as well as six novels and two works of nonfiction.
Laura Miller, previously an editor at Salon.com, writes essays and reviews for the New York Times, the New Yorker, and other publications.
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Yes, of course there are differences, but predictable ones like cutting for length. After all, films are able to tell us more in less time than a book can. The characters are fairly consistent with the novel save for the doctor's wife who is, if anything, worse than her film version. The relationships are not precisely the same, but the spirit of those relationships and what they mean to the characters are true to those in the book.
What was different for me was that the book made me more uneasy about Eleanor, and about how much of the book's horror is in her mind, or can be attributed to her poltergeist. If you've read Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, you'll be familiar with the disorientation of not ever really knowing what's going on, whether it's supernatural, a mental aberration, or a combination of the two. And that, more than anything makes The Haunting of Hill House one of the most unsettling things I've ever read.
It's gloriously well written; it gave me the wiggins in the first ten pages, and never really let up. But it's not throat-clutching horror, or jump-out-of-your-skin horror. Rather, it's a slow and even sad progress of the death of hope in the face of something overwhelming. The horror is that no matter the source, nothing can stop it.
I'm not a fan of gorpy horror, buckets of blood and body parts being flung about. Monsters don't scare me. People scare me. What goes on in people's heads scares the bejeebers out of me, so this sort of horror? It's my candy. And for my money, Shirley Jackson is one of the greatest horror writers ever.
Hill House is a huge pile of bricks and mortar that was built in the late 1800s. There is much tragedy attached to the house starting with a carriage accident that occurs as a young wife comes to her new house only to be killed when the horses are startled and the carriage upturns. The young daughter of this marriage is brought up in this curious place and ultimately dies here. Her caregiver commits suicide by hanging herself from a circular staircase. There are many rooms, hallways, and lots of tales about ghostly apparitions, noises, and so forth.
A professor, Dr. Montague and his team decide to investigate the reports of paranormal activity in this house. In addition to his team, his invitees include two women---Theodora a free spirited theatrical type and Eleanor, a mousy insecure woman. The other invitee is Luke, a distant relation of the owner of the house. The other people in the story consist of a housekeeper/cook and the caretaker---kind of spooky people in their own right!
As everyone arrives and settles in and becomes acquainted it soon becomes apparent that there is definitely a presence at Hill House and it's not a friendly one. There are "cold spots" in the library, and during the night banging on Eleanor's bedroom door. Theodora moves in with Eleanor, but the noise doesn't stop. Then there is a message on the wall "Help Eleanor Come Home" Is this a trick played by one of the guests? Or is there a force in the house that is compelling Eleanor to be a part of it? The other guests are sympathetic to Eleanor, but she becomes more and more delusional and hysterical which culminates in her being asked to leave.
There is mystery, drama, and suspense around every corner. Shirley Jackson shows a lot of creativity and imagination in her writing of this book. Her descriptions of the house and grounds are so realistic that you almost picture yourself in the midst of the scenery. She brings out the cruelty of humanity in her descriptions of the characters, especially Luke and Theodora who play on the fears and weaknesses of Eleanor. And in the end, maybe the lesson to be learned is this: there are inherently evil aspects of nature that should just be left alone and Hill House is one of them!