Book Review #3 – The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hey there,

It’s time for another book review from the clearly picky and somewhat pretentious bibliophile, ME! This time the review is for The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

After having read ‘We Have Always Lived in This Castle’ by Jackson, loving it, loving how it was written and the way the reader experiences the characters, I was pretty excited to jump into another book by her. This one is apparently her most famous novel and was also turned into two different movies over the years. I remember watching  the movie ‘The Haunting’ as a kid (I used to love horror movies…) but I didn’t remember it so I didn’t know what to expect with this book. It’s considered one of the best ‘ghost stories’ ever written.

Here is the book description from Goodreads:
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.”

Okay, first and foremost, this book doesn’t read in the same manner that WHALINTC does. I didn’t find it as smooth and I wasn’t as drawn into the characters as I was with the other book. I didn’t form any attachment or genuine interest to the characters as I thought they were rather flat and uninteresting, personally. And I know that Jackson intended the reader to dislike the characters, but I disliked them to the point where I didn’t even care what happened to them. Not even at the end.

I also wasn’t as excited to get through this book as I was with WHALINTC. I read that previous book in one sitting, but I fought through the end of this one  for a few days. Considering this novel is so short, and that the end of the book is where “the good stuff” happens, I take that as a negative.

I didn’t find this book to be spooky at all. The way the haunting occurs is very abrupt but not in a shocking way. I would have preferred a slow description with a climactic build to get to the “scary parts”. I didn’t feel frightened for the characters, I just wanted to experience more. And don’t get me wrong, here: I have a great imagination, and I’m one of those easily spooked types. But this book did nothing for me in the “scary” department. I was thoroughly underwhelmed with what is supposed to be one of the spookiest books of all time.

Overall, I didn’t hate the book, I just wouldn’t read it again or recommend it to anyone. My expectations were so high after WHALINTC that this book was a big let-down for me. I’m grateful I only paid .99cents for it on my Kobo.

Rating: 3/5
Pros: Jackson’s great writing, great description of the setting, interesting dialogue
Cons: No “hooks” to keep you reading, disliked the characters, wasn’t scary, didn’t care for the ending

Currently Reading: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


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