The Haunting of Hill House is currently on Amazon’s Books from Hell: The Top 25 Horror Books Ever Written
Written by: Bridget Cannon
There is a real pleasure in reading simple physiological horror. That is what The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson reminded me. It is like when you are being told your first ghost stories as a child. Those stories are not about gore. They are about anticipation. About the small sounds and all the little things that you don’t want to admit frighten you. So you sit there with your brave face on but later you hide as deep into your covers in the darkness, anticipating what will happen. That is what it is like to read The Haunting of Hill House.
What was really interesting for me was how the characters have been written. I didn’t particularly like any of them yet I still cared about them. I worried for their well-being. I related to them but, to be honest, I’m not sure I would like to be stuck in the house with any of them. I give Shirley Jackson a lot of credit for being able to write them so well. They are well rounded and incredibly human. The story begins after the Doctor has sent out letters to people, whom he has carefully screened, to spend a few months with him at Hill House to help with an experiment in the paranormal. The main character is Eleanor, who accepts the invitation as a step toward reclaiming her own life after spending many years caring for her dying mother. The other character who accepts is a vivacious woman named Theodora. They are joined by Luke, who is going to inherit Hill House one day, and by the couple who care for the house.
The suspense creeps up on you in the best way while you read. If you are a fan of ghost stories, I would highly recommend this book. If you scoff at ghost stories, I would recommend this book. Also, if you are looking for a movie version I would find the 1963 version of The Haunting over the 1999 version. I found this style of horror refreshing to read. I have always liked ghost stories and this one reminded me why. Like Montaque tells us: “Fear,” the doctor said, “is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.” Sometimes it is just fun to give in and wonder about the shadows and the slight creaks in the night.