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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley…
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The Haunting of Hill House (original 1959; edition 2006)

by Shirley Jackson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,5031711,514 (4)486
Member:Porua
Title:The Haunting of Hill House
Authors:Shirley Jackson
Info:Penguin, 2006
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:
Tags:books I don't own, books I've read, horror, classic, American, Hot Review

Work details

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

  1. 160
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both have an unreliable narrator, which results in an ambiguous story.
  2. 90
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (alalba)
  3. 60
    White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (upstairsgirl)
    upstairsgirl: Similar in premise, less subtle but more disturbing in execution.
  4. 61
    The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill (coppers, Jannes)
    Jannes: Not sure if it is a coincidence, but the two perhaps best ghost stories ever written are both by women, in a genre otherwise mostly dominated by men. Both are superb explorations of death, loss, fear, and all those other elementsthat make up the good supernatural tales.… (more)
  5. 51
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (blacksylph)
    blacksylph: The only haunted house story I've ever read that was scarier than this book.
  6. 40
    The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan (blacksylph)
  7. 41
    Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories by Roald Dahl (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Dahl's is the best collection of ghost stories available, and Jackson's is the best haunted house story of all time. I think they make a nice pair (as the bishop said to the chorus girl.)
  8. 31
    The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons (sturlington)
  9. 20
    Hell House by Richard Matheson (sturlington)
  10. 20
    The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff (amyblue)
  11. 00
    The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (Scottneumann)
  12. 66
    Salem's Lot by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  13. 11
    Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar (agmlll)
  14. 56
    Carrie by Stephen King (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Clearly influenced by The Haunting of Hill House, as is much of King's work.
  15. 35
    Stephen King's Danse Macabre by Stephen King (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.
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» See also 486 mentions

English (168)  Japanese (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (171)
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
I actually started reading this audiobook way back in September for the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge. It’s only 7.5 hours long, so I thought it’d be a quick read. I think the fact that it wasn’t demonstrates quite well how not drawn into the story I was. This is a classic haunted house tale that perhaps might not work for the modern reader, depending on how much horror they generally imbibe.

This is going to be a quick review because I honestly don’t have too much to say about the book. Four people arrive at a house. Things appear normal, except one of them, Eleanor, clearly is a bit more emotionally unstable than the rest. She is, for instance, shocked that anyone is interested in her or asks her questions. She also has trouble with her own identity, such as knowing for sure what she likes to eat. Odd things start to happen in the house, and because Eleanor is odd, the others aren’t sure if it’s the house doing them or Eleanor herself. Eleanor becomes overly attached to Theodora. Drama ensues.

None of the house horror scenes really got to me, because frankly I’ve seen worse in plenty of other horror I read. I do love the genre. The parts that actually disturbed me were when the others in the household were inexplicably cruel to Eleanor. That dynamic of an odd woman randomly tossed in with strangers who proceed to be mean to her in a highschoolish way held my interest more than the house did. People and their cruelty are so much more frightening than a haunted house. I understand that the book is sort of leaving it up to the reader to wonder if the house or the people really drive Eleanor crazy, but frankly I think the ending removes all question on this point.

Similarly, there are definitely some undertones in the Theodora/Eleanor relationship that indicates they might possibly have had a fling early on and then Theodora abruptly distances herself from Eleanor when she gets too clingy. None of this is said outright, however it is heavily implied that Theodora’s roommate back home is her lover who she had a quarrel with, and she and Eleanor establish a close bond early on in the book. The problem is this all stays subtext and is never brought out in the open of the book. I get it that this book was published in 1959 so it probably had to stay subtext and was most likely shocking to a reader in the 50s. But to me, a modern reader, it felt like the book kept almost getting interesting and then backing off from it. The combination of the former issue and this one meant that I was left feeling unengaged and uninterested. Basically, I feel that the book didn’t go quite far enough to be shocking, horrifying, or titillating.

The audiobook narration by Bernadette Dunne was excellent as always, and the main reason I kept listening rather than just picking up a copy of the book and speed reading it. I love listening to her voice.

Overall, this classic was boundary pushing when it was first published but it might not come across that way to a modern reader. Readers who read a lot of modern horror might find this book a bit too tame for their tastes. Those interested in the early works of the genre will still enjoy the read, as will modern readers looking for horror lite. Readers looking for the rumored GLBTQ content in this book will most likely be disappointed by the subtlety of it, although those interested in early representation in literature will still find it interesting.

Check out my full review. ( )
  gaialover | Jan 9, 2015 |
I can safely say that "The Haunting of Hill House" is the most terrifying book I have ever read. This book gave me nightmares. I read it for the first time when it was newly published, when I was just entering my teens. At the time I sort of identified with Eleanor in a strange way. Eleanor herself seemed as awkward and uncomfortable in her own skin as a girl on the verge of puberty. I felt a bizarre camaraderie. Though in reality she was much more vulnerable and easily led.

That Hill House possessed her is an understatement. It enveloped her; it had been waiting for her. And that was what was so terrifying. Up until that point I had had no concept of such horror. This book opened a door to a whole new genre, a whole new world, one that I am still reveling in some fifty-odd years later.

Thank you, Shirley Jackson, I owe you one! ( )
  Starwriter1109 | Jan 8, 2015 |
For my Spooky Reads month.

Some seriously creepy moments but wasn't piss-my-pants-scary (i.e. when you're too frightened to get up to use the bathroom; if you're not reading ghost stories or horror novels past midnight, you're doing it wrong.) Jackson is SUCH a good writer-- the pacing is beautifully done. Some of the scares border on cliche, and the second half feels like a different animal than the first half (where everyone's lolling around in the sun, picking strawberries and talking about having picnics). Even when dealing with such terrifying events as blood spontaneously appearing on walls, someone is bound to make a snarky, Wildean remark (which I totally appreciate since this is also my way of dealing with horror movies, much to the dismay of my friends whose response to my babbling is usually something along the lines of "megan, shut the fuck up"). ( )
  megantron | Jan 2, 2015 |
Absolutely superb opening paragraph and further flashes of almost equal brilliance throughout. I feel churlish not giving it five stars, but the plot hedges and fluffs the issue of the supernatural somewhat, which is an important failure considering. The plot structure is weakened as a result. Hate to say it, with writing as fine as this, but somewhat flawed. ( )
  Quickpint | Nov 29, 2014 |
Jackson’s novel, often hailed as a classic of horror fiction, seems decidedly quaint by current horror standards. While all of the fundamental elements of a haunted house tale feature prominently in this novel—an ill-fated history of death, suicide, and family intrigue, mysterious and unexplained noises, dark passages and an architectural design that appear to defy logic, a remote and isolated locale, strangers assembled to survive in the house cut off from the outside world—the horror (or more precisely, the terror) that occurs in this story is almost too subtle and too muted.

The title of the story might provide some clue regarding the nature of this tale. Note that the title implies that what occurs in this tale is a “haunting”—it does not seem to imply that Hill House *is* haunted but rather that what transpires in the novel is a *haunting.* The main character, Eleanor—an inscrutably lonely romantic prone to imaginative flights of fancy—might very well be the agent of the haunting. That is, rather than the house haunting the characters, in this story, the characters (or rather, the main character) could be haunting the house, as the title implies.

Read this one for the restrained suspense of Jackson’s writing and its value as a cornerstone of the genre, but temper your expectations of spine-tingling frights and sleepless nights. ( )
  jimrgill | Nov 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shirley Jacksonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edelfeldt, IngerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, LauraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. 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.
Quotations
Journeys end when lovers meet.
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. Without ever wanting to become reserved and shy, 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.
The house was vile. She shivered and thought, the words coming freely into her mind, Hill House is vile, it is diseased; get away from here at once.
When they were silent for a moment the quiet weight of the house pressed down from all around them.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Hill House is an eighty year-old mansion built by a man named Hugh Crain. The story concerns four main characters: Dr. John Montague, an investigator of the supernatural; two young women, Eleanor and Theodora; and a young man, Luke, the heir to Hill House, who is host to the others. Doctor Montague hopes to find scientific evidence of the existence of the supernatural. He rents Hill House for a summer and invites several people to stay there as his guests. Of these invitees, whom he has chosen because at one time or another they have all experienced paranormal events, only Eleanor and Theodora accept.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143039989, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:41 -0400)

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The four visitors at Hill House-- some there for knowledge, others for adventure-- are unaware that the old mansion will soon choose one of them to make its own.

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