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The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 28, 2006
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Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages.
Eleanor Vance has always been a loner--shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother. "She had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words." Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by "supernatural manifestations." He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague's bizarre study--along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House--a notorious estate in New England.
Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "without kindness, never meant to be lived in...."
Although Eleanor's initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural--she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone--neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures. Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Haunting of Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw. --Naomi Gesinger --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for Penguin Horror Classics:
“The new Penguin Horror editions, selected by Guillermo del Toro, feature some of the best art-direction (by Paul Buckley) I've seen in a cover in quite some time.” – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
"Each cover does a pretty spectacular job of evoking the mood of the title in bold, screenprint-style iconography." – Dan Solomon, Fast Company
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Often, I found the normal conversations between the characters awkward. It was as if the author found it hard to write normal direct speech! I enjoyed the book, but would not go to 4 stars. Some incidents, such as the pounding on the doors, were really spooky. I would actually have loved to know and read a little more about the housekeeper, who was both surly and amusing. I kept wondering what she knew and of course would not tell.
Why were we never enlightened as to the cold spot in the nursery door? Actually, nothing about the history of the house was really unearthed, nor did we read of any strange deaths in there. So for me it was as if the raison d'être of the haunted house was completely left out, and the attention shifted to Eleanor, a rather irritating character sometimes.
Eleanor was an enigma. Was she slightly insane? Psychic? Silly? Was she in love with Theodora? Hard to tell. I felt, like another reviewer, that the book started out promising thrills and chills, but wound down to ... nothing much, only what poor Eleanor did ... (no spoilers). I still maintain I enjoyed the book and it's well worth reading and making up your own mind.
There's a darkness in Hill House, one that extends far beyond its cruel-faced facade and its dark corridors, where doors are never left ajar and windows never stay open. The evil that resides within the mad mansion - for isn't a sane one - dates back to its construction and the family who lived there soon after it was done. Years later, when a group of three young people are invited to stay at Hill House by a professor, horrible things happen.
I really enjoyed The Haunting of Hill House, mostly because of the dark atmospheric feel to it, but also due to the sheer wit contained in its pages. Shirley Jackson managed to mash-up moments of horror with instances of joy, then wrapped them around with a cloak of insanity and threw them at me as if I'd ever been good at catching things. Sometimes normal conversations would be happening and then someone would go off on a insane-sounding tangent, and other people would act as if it weren't happening. Other times, normally nice characters would suddenly turn into evil bickerers and converse with such cruelty I had to read such passages twice to be sure I wasn't going crazy.
I don't think everyone would enjoy the Haunting of Hill House, not because some aren't intelligent enough to understand it, because it would be way too illogical for them. However, I rather liked it, and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Jackson's novels.
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I’m stingy with my stars and gave out five of them to Jackson’s We...Read more