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The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 28, 2006
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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
Top customer reviews
It's creepy and horrible in the best way and immediately draws you in with Eleanor, who has been unable to create a life of her own because she's spent the past 11 years as the caretaker for her dreadful mother. I especially liked this passage:
Eleanor Vance was thirty-two years old when she came to Hill House. The only person in the world she genuinely hated, now that her mother was dead, was her sister. She disliked her brother-in-law and her five-year-old niece, and she had no friends. This was owing largely to the eleven years she had spent caring for her invalid mother, which had left her with some proficiency as a nurse and an inability to face strong sunlight without blinking. She could not remember ever being truly happy in her adult life; her years with her mother had been built up devotedly around small guilts and small reproaches, constant weariness, and unending despair.
Hill House, like Eleanor, waits, empty for someone to fill it up. The haunting may seem mundane by modern standards, but it's the atmosphere and the character of the house itself that really creates the atmosphere which makes this novel so effective.
One note about the forward in this edition. IT CONTAINS SPOILERS! Luckily it's a relatively heavy piece of literary analysis and I was ready to go so I skipped it and read it afterwards. If you've already read this book then definitely read the forward as it is excellent, if you haven't, then definitely take the time to read it afterwards.
Dr. Montague decides to investigate Hill House, a notorious haunted house, by going to stay there. He invites Eleanor Vance and Theodora as they have booth have previous paranormal experiences. Luke Sanderson is a nephew of the current owner and goes along to represent the family. Each has their own reason for being at the house and what starts as a lark soon turns into a living nightmare. What possess Hill House and will they be able to escape?
I enjoyed my edition of The Haunting of Hill House which is part of the Penguin Horror collection and included an introduction by Guillermo Del Toro about the horror series as well as an introduction of this specific book by Laura Miller. I skipped both introductions to read the story on its own merit, but returned to them after I finished the book. They are both worth a read.
I don’t want to get too much into the plot as I don’t want to ruin the story for others, but the writing was fabulous from the memorable start to thrilling conclusion. I loved both the first quote and last quote and many in between as seen below. I also love how it is not bloody gross horror, but suspenseful horror. The horror of a house that doesn’t seem quite right, but slowly takes over the minds of those who inhabit it. I love that it is a Victorian house that smothers the occupants with its clutter and unsymmetrical design. I thought Eleanor was a fascinating character and I liked her journey through the novel.
My favorite quotes:
“Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.”
“The light changed; she turned onto the highway and was free of the city. No one, she thought, can catch me now; they don’t even know which way I’m going.”
“No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of the line and place which suggest evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows, and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice.”
“Naturally I hope that we will all know a good deal more about Hill House before we leave. No one knows, even, why some houses are called haunted.”
“It watches. The house. It watches every move you make.”
“She might have cried if she could have thought of any way of telling them why; instead, she smiled brokenly up at the house, looking at her own window, at the amused, certain face of the house, watching her quietly. The house was waiting now . . . and it was waiting for her; no one else could satisfy it.”
“Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Overall, The Haunting of Hill House was a perfect Halloween read; suspenseful with great characters including an unforgettable house.
Book Source: I purchased this book from Amazon.com