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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley…

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

by Shirley Jackson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,1102171,224 (3.97)1 / 573
Title:The Haunting of Hill House
Authors:Shirley Jackson
Info:Penguin, 2006
Collections:Read but unowned
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, sturlington)
    upstairsgirl: Similar in premise, less subtle but more disturbing in execution.
    sturlington: Hill House clearly inspired White Is for Witching.
  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. 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.)
  6. 30
    The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan (blacksylph)
  7. 20
    The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff (amyblue)
  8. 42
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (blacksylph)
    blacksylph: The only haunted house story I've ever read that was scarier than this book.
  9. 11
    Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar (agmlll)
  10. 77
    Carrie by Stephen King (artturnerjr, akblanchard)
    artturnerjr: Clearly influenced by The Haunting of Hill House, as is much of King's work.
    akblanchard: Carrie White has much in common with Jackson's shy, bullied heroine Eleanor Vance.
  11. 77
    Salem's Lot by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  12. 01
    The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (Scottneumann)
  13. 45
    Danse Macabre by Stephen King (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.
  14. 02
    Hell House by Richard Matheson (sturlington)
    sturlington: Inspired by The Haunting of Hill House.
1950s (116)

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English (213)  Japanese (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  All (216)
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
The study of a neurotic. Not scary, not exciting. Very disappointed in the longest short novel I've ever read. Repetitive, unappealing characters. Guess this is considered a classic because she does write nice prose. ( )
  dugmel | Nov 25, 2016 |
The Haunting of Hill House
1 Star

Extremely disappointed after all the hype.

The writing is overly descriptive and boring. The characters are obnoxious and unlikeable.

I never fully understood exactly why or by whom the house is supposedly haunted. I suppose the message could be that there is nothing to fear but fear itself because the characters seem to be scaring themselves silly over nothing. ( )
  Lauren2013 | Nov 19, 2016 |
This is one of the true classics of the horror genre. The opening paragraph is a masterful example of subtle menace, and the rest of the book is pretty fine, too. Never blunt, never graphic, yet still Jackson manages to really scare you. This is the perfect book to add a chill to those hot summer nights. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House is still the standard by which haunted-house stories are judged today even though it is based on some of the same plot devices common to more run-of-the-mill haunted-house novels and movies. For instance, Hill House is a large, isolated (in this case it’s up on a hill all by itself) old house with a reputation for being haunted, a place the locals don’t want to be anywhere around after dark - and then along comes a party of outsiders who have decided to spend a few nights inside the house to see if anything spooky might happen while they are there. Throw in the rather creepy caretakers of the place (who always leave before it gets dark), long hallways with lots of closed doors, mysterious staircases that lead to unexpected rooms, plus lots of unexplained noises in the night, and The Haunting of Hill House could easily have ended up being little more than a mediocre story filled with clichés.

But that didn’t happen because Shirley Jackson was simply too good a writer to let it happen. Instead, Jackson concentrated on character development, conflict between characters, mood, and making the reader gradually realize that Hill House is an entity very much aware of the four strangers who have dared to challenge its reputation.

Stephen King, who certainly knows a thing or two about haunted-house stories, is a great admirer of Jackson’s novel, beginning even with the book’s first two sentences in which King says that Jackson: suggests that “Hill House is a live organism; tells us that this live organism does not exist under conditions of absolute reality; that because…it does not dream, it is not sane.” King goes on to say that the opening also establishes the historical context of the house and “concludes by telling us that something walks in the rooms and halls of Hill House.” That is a whole lot to accomplish with just two sentences, even two sentences totaling eighty-three words, as these do.

The real horror in The Haunting of Hill House comes from watching the house (and whatever drives it) slowly claim the mind of Eleanor, the weakest of its four “guests.” Eleanor, a young woman without a home to call her own, lives with her sister and brother-in-law and has never learned to stand up for herself – even when not allowed by them to drive the car for which she has paid fully half the purchase price. “Stealing” the car for her drive to Hill House as she does is so out of character for Eleanor that she is giddy from the excitement of it all for days after. Hill House is quick to recognize Eleanor’s weaknesses.

When ghost-hunter Dr. Montague and the two others in the party begin to notice changes in Eleanor’s behavior and grow concerned, Hill House is quick to increase pressure on all four and soon has them quarreling and second-guessing each other. The question now is whether Hill House will ultimately relinquish all four of the intruding outsiders or decide to claim one or two of them for itself.
Bottom Line: Fans of modern horror fiction will do well to read this classic tale from 1959 because it will give them something by which to judge the quality of what is being published in the genre today. Shirley Jackson, because she was a genre-writer, does not always get the credit she deserves. Thankfully, The Library of America did its bit to strengthen Jackson’s reputation in 2009 with a compilation volume that includes The Lottery; or, The Adventure of James Harris (a collection of 24 short stories); The Haunting of Hill House; We Have Always Lived in the Castle; and Other Stories and Sketches (a selection of previously uncollected or unpublished short work). The LOA book is a must for Shirley Jackson fans. ( )
  SamSattler | Nov 16, 2016 |
It might be time for a reread. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shirley Jacksonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buckley, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edelfeldt, IngerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, LauraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warner, DavidNarratorsecondary 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.
Journeys end in lovers meeting.
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.
We have grown to trust blindly in our senses of balance and reason...
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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.

AR 6.3, 11 pts
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:04 -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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