Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin…

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

by Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,3741661,611 (4)457
Title:The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Shirley Jackson
Other authors:Laura Miller (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:read 2012, read via public library
Tags:Fiction, horror

Work details

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

Recently added bythebigidea, jnwelch, Hyzie, vnesting, private library, SEdwards29, etbm2003
  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 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. 21
    Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar (agmlll)
  12. 66
    Salem's Lot by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  13. 56
    Carrie by Stephen King (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Clearly influenced by The Haunting of Hill House, as is much of King's work.
  14. 01
    The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (Scottneumann)
  15. 35
    Danse Macabre by Stephen King (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 457 mentions

English (162)  Japanese (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
Rereading an old favorite. ( )
  vnesting | Oct 26, 2014 |
Just in time for Halloween, a nice scary book. This was a great read. I thought it was going to be about a haunted house but it wasn't at all. It was more psychological than ghosts that go bump throughout the night.

For the rest of the review, visit my blog at: http://angelofmine1974.livejournal.com/80767.html ( )
  booklover3258 | Oct 23, 2014 |
oh this book is so, so good. i didn't love the first 2.5 pages, but by midway through page 3, when she opens chapter 2 with - "Eleanor Vance was thirty-two years old when she came to Hill House. The only person in the world she genuinely hated, now that her mother was dead, was her sister. She disliked her brother-in-law and her five-year-old niece, and she had no friends. This was owing largely to the eleven years she had spent caring for her invalid mother, which had left her with some proficiency as a nurse and an inability to face strong sunlight without blinking." - i was all in.

it's not as scary (in the traditional sense) as i'd expected, but i think it's stronger for it as it's less about the supernatural manifestations in the house and more about the expectation of them that build in the group and with each of the people individually. is the house evil? is anything happening or is it in the occupant's heads? (does mrs. montague not experience any phenomena because there aren't any or because she's not a part of the group the house has chosen?) is theodora mean to eleanor or is that (also?) in eleanor's head? at what point does eleanor really start to go mad, and how much of the story is then called into question because she's the narrator? there are so many questions that come up reading this; it's the kind of book that makes you want to go back through and find clues and see how things shift based on how you might answer those questions.

i love the uncertainty that comes with reading this and i understand why it's cited as foundational for so many writers (like stephen king). and yet it reads like it could have been published the day i began reading it.

i can't do this book justice. it's just so good on so many levels. shirley jackson can write and i can't wait to read (and reread over and over again) everything the ever published. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Oct 22, 2014 |
I think what makes Shirley Jackson’s writing so effective is the underlying uncertainty you feel when reading her works. Under the surface, something isn’t right. There’s a gothic creepiness that others have copied, but which Jackson first mastered.

The Haunting of Hill House has this trait, but it’s certainly no We Have Always Lived in the Castle. This may be in part due to the fact that we’re dealing with a much more supernatural book here. The title alone tips off the reader to potential paranormal phenomena. When these phenomena do make their presence in the book, I believe it distracts us from the wonderfully-drawn characters. Now, I would make an argument for the point that in this book, Hill House is itself a character, but it cannot capture our attention the way Eleanor should have. In The Haunting of Hill House you find the various psychoses, the strange and the bullies, that make Jackson’s writing so compelling. But the forces of the other world can distract us from these. It feels as though the story becomes about the haunting or the house, not so much about the fragility of the human mind, or the human capacity to hurt one another.

Regardless, I find Jackson’s writing so incredibly well crafted. She creates magnificent characters and her sentences are dark, yet lovely. There’s much that can be said about her wonderful characterization of the house, how it preys on the weak. But isn’t it so much sadder when it is our fellow human who preys on the weakness of other humans? There’s some of that here, but nowhere near the magnitude of a story like We Have Always Lived in the Castle. If you haven’t read that one yet, I highly recommend it, though this one is good too. ( )
  chrisblocker | Oct 22, 2014 |
Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Loooooved it. Now I must hunt down Shirley Jackson's other novels and short stories.

Eleanor is a lonely, awkward woman in her thirties. Her social skills are poor, because she has spent most of her adult life caring for her ailing, mean, mother. She seems to have some trouble understanding/communicating with people, and she frequently slips off into daydreams and lies about/invents a different life for herself, when asked. There is something heartbreakingly sad in the way she has waited her entire life for her life to get started. She is just waiting for something - anything - to happen to her. And yet - and yet - I was drawn to her. I over-identifyed with her, and all her flaws, I guess. She is such a human character.

When she gets a letter from Dr. Montague, inviting her to help him study supernatural phenomena at Hill House, she leaps at the chance. But really she would have leapt at anything.

At Hill House, she meets up with the first friends she has ever really had: Dr. Montague, a kind-hearted man, a scientist with a serious interest in documenting and analyzing the unexplained, Theodora, a beautiful, alluring and fashionable woman, and Luke Sanderson, the nephew of the owner of Hill House (the owners never use Hill House themselves.) The four instantly form a close bond, joking over drinks and playing games. They form an ersatz family. For the first time Eleanor feels like she belongs and she is happy.

All around them, Hill House is a stark contrast to this positivity - a house with an evil atmosphere it seems “insane,” if a house can be insane. It’s ugly and claustrophobic and the angles are all just slightly wrong. Sure enough, apparitions and cold spots, banging in the night and other phenomena begin manifesting. They discover a disturbing scrapbook left behind by the original owner. The dynamics of the group also begin to unravel and deteriorate.

Theodora’s sexuality is left ambiguous - the “friend” in the city, her seeming flirtation with Eleanor “Nellie” - and Eleanor seems genuinely attracted to her sometimes. Sometimes she seems to hate her, but then she tells her she will follow her home like a stray cat. To me, it seemed like Eleanor was more in love with Theo than Luke, although maybe she romanticized the idea of Luke. Then, when Theo and Luke seemed to be flirting with each other and leaving her out she couldn’t stand them. She was very childish and petulant in that way, and self-centred (but I didn’t love her any less for it, I really can’t explain it.)

Then there is Dr. Montague’s wife - Mrs. Montague - a perfectly hateful character, the sort you just love to despise. She is a scathing interpretation of “mediums” - the cheesy over-the-top sort that have TV shows. So I hated her, yet enjoyed her as an antagonist and felt deeply sorry for the doctor.

The book, despite being written in 1959, feels very fresh. The characters are relatable and likeable (or hate-able, in the case of Mrs. Montague, Arthur, the bitchy sister and the dour housekeeper) but all recognizable. The friendships feel real. The fights feel real. The story overall just feels very, very believable - which is what gives it that delightfully creepy edge.

Jackson's writing is darkly beautiful. Eleanor’s thoughts are wonderfully weird, making you question just how reliable she is or is not. Her eventual succumbing to madness and the spirits of Hill House is addictive to read about - it sweeps you along utterly. I loved this one even more than We Have Always Lived in the Castle (also excellent.) ( )
1 vote catfantastic | Oct 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (18 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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Leonard Brown
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 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

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)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
5 avail.
274 wanted
6 pay8 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4)
1 10
1.5 3
2 46
2.5 16
3 191
3.5 72
4 350
4.5 45
5 363


Three editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 93,468,396 books! | Top bar: Always visible