Book Recommendation: THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE

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“Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, 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.” Shirley Jackson, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE

Publisher Synopsis:

The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre…

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

My Recommendation:

Thoroughly gothic, thrilling, and at times terrifying, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE takes the reader into a haunted house by way of a haunted narrator–one equal parts sympathetic and unpleasant. What begins as an experiment in science to validate the supernatural quickly becomes personal and dangerous for the participants. In addition to genuinely scary moments (I had to stop reading one night), what is perhaps most disturbing is how fine the line is between paranoia and warranted fear, a desire to belong and obsession, and psychotic episodes versus actual ghosts.

My only prior exposure to the writing of Shirley Jackson came through her story, “The Lottery.” THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE secures my good impression of her work. It’s a slim volume–180 pages–and can be read easily in just a few nights. I recommend picking up a copy and doing just that. It was exhilarating to get lost in a good, old-fashioned, scary story, and I am eager to read Jackson’s other writings.

 

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