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I loved this post. I read We've Always Lived in the Castle recently and thought it was fantastic and I want to read this one as soon as I can get hold of a copy.

As we're house-hunting right now I've become sensitive to houses and the atmospheres they exude. Thnkfully, we haven't come across one like this at all, but some houses definitely give me a sense of sadness - you know people were unhappy living there. Some, not many, are joyful and some are just neutral.

Table Talk

I'm not a ghost/horror story reader, (although I was a teenager, but then what teenager isn't?) so I thought when I first started to read your review and your comment that this is more subtle than usual that this might be the book to help me get back into the genre. However, once we got to the parts about the house not simply having it's own personality but having an active personality I backed away again. I clearly don't have the stomach for this tyoe of literature.


Great review! I really want to read this. It's on my amazon wish list, so fingers crossed for Christmas!


I'm planning on reading both The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle for the RIP challenge. Neither have been readily available in the UK but Penguin are publishing them next month.


Wow! Creepy! Great post! What a perfect read for the RIP Challenge!


Sounds creepy but I am better at psychological creepiness than I am at gore. Between you and Simon at Stuck in a Book I am now becoming very intrigued by Shirley Jackson and I am going to put her books on my Christmas list! Fantastic review!


Isn't this a great book? I loved it, the creepiness and the ambiguity. I liked it more than We Have Always Lived in the Castle too, though that one is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Wonderful write up, you make me want to read it again.


I have been reading your blog for awhile. Your writing and reviews are so well done. I alway have an enjoyable experience. One of my favorite biographies I read so far this year was Private Demons about Shirley Jackson. Just to add an extra element to the haunting of hill house she wrote about how she was inspired by a real life house in a photograph. She later found out her grandfather had built it- and it had been destroyed by a fire. Shirley Jackson actually believed she was psychic and reports other strange things occuring while she wrote this book. She was a fascinating eccentric person.

Simon T

What a great review, Danielle, and a great choice of quotation. I prefered We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but thought this was brilliant too. The reason I prefered WHALITC was because she managed to be so haunting in that one without using ANY elements of the supernatural. I don't know if you saw my review of The Bird's Nest a while ago? It's good, but nothing to compare to these two. Still, worth reading.


Someday I'm going to read this! I thought We Have Always Lived... was fantastic and really want to aquaint myself with more of Jackson's writing.


Great review, Danielle. I like what you said about it being like a prism. That is so true. It's been a long time since I read this one but I remember thinking that it was much more complex than an regular ghost story, which is what I had assumed at first. I haven't read anything else by her but would love to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Kristen M.

I'm really intrigued by Heidi's mention of a Shirley Jackson biography. She certainly came up with some horrific ideas but everything is also so well-executed that it makes for a good read. She must have been quite a person.


Stop making books sound so intriguing! Well, we both know I don't really mean it but darn it all, I can't keep up. I love stories that deserve to be read more than once, since reading short stories for the RIP IV challenge I've seen for myself how much more info can be garnered by it.

Dorothy W.

This sounds really great! I much prefer the subtle kind of scary books rather than blood and gore. I think a house with a complicated history would be lots of fun to read about.


I read all the Shirley Jackson books and stories I could get my hands on several years back, and Private Demons as well. Fascinating woman and what a writer! Danielle, you're making me want to read this one again, though I'm like Simon and really prefer We Have Always Lived. This is the the only haunted house story I've ever liked.

My favorite Shirley Jackson books, though, are the memoirs, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. She's so funny, but there's that dark edge that shows all the same.


Although I love the movie (the old B&W version, NOT the god-awful remake), I've never read the book. Actually, I've never read anything by Shirley Jackson. Perhaps I'll remedy that this season, as it sounds as though it is a great read!


BooksPlease--I love Shirley Jackson and think you would enjoy this if you liked her other book! It's weird how houses can feel a particular way, but I expect you do get a sense as you house hunt!
Table Talk--This book is never explicit but she does create a good atmosphere. You might try her other book We Have Always Lived in the Castle as it is much subtler and there is no supernatural element to the story.
Litlove--I really like her and I would love to her what you make of what's going on in this book! I hope Santa does bring it!
Paperback Reader--So glad these are being published in the UK--they are really good and I think they should be in print. I loved both so you are in for a treat
reading them this fall.
Nadia--She is a great choice for a good book with creepy atmosphere, but not too over the top. I wonder if her other books are anywhere near as good!
Rachel--She's an excellent writer and I too prefer something subtle and psychological over something more blantant and obviously trying to be scary! Well worth adding to your wishlist!
Stefanie--This is definitely one to read again! I set out not looking forward to it especially--after reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle last year and thought it was excellent and then having in mind the awful recent movie. My expectations weren't very high, but even if they had been she would have surpassed them!
Heidi--I need to read her biography--thanks for sharing that story! She does sound like she was an interesting woman--I know next to nothing about her, but I'm not surprised after reading these books about the psychic aspect of her personality. Thanks for the kind words by the way!


Simon--I really wasn't expecting to like this one so much. I saw parts of the recent movie and had an idea in mind what the book would be like and had a hard time at first separating the two. The more I read, though, the more I saw the book is excellent and had so much more to it than the movie. I still love her other book as well, but it's all the subtext in this one that fascinates me. I could happily reread both, though. I'll look for your review on The Birds Nest now--I want to read more of her work but really am afraid nothing will be quite as good!
Tara--I highly recommend this--I think you'd like it. I'm so glad that people are reading her still as her books are great.
Iliana--There really is much more to it than a plain old ghost story. It was very clever really and We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a great read as well.
Kristen--You do wonder where she came up with these ideas. They are so unusual really--especially The Lottery. I'd really like to read that biography.
Darlene--I know what you mean--so many temptations. Just when you think to yourself--I'm set, no more new books for a while, and what happens! :) And I like rereading (though it's hard with so many new books out there to read). You really can pick up so much more a second time around. The nice thing with short stories as you can usually squeeze them in much more easily than a novel (a second time around that is).
Susan--I can see why you'd want to read all her books--I want to now, too! And it's almost a toss up for me to say which I like better--only this is so fresh in my mind and has me thinking about it so much and I didn't even write about everything I've been thinking! I bet all her books are a little dark around the edges. I must get my hands on those two memoirs!
Lesley--Both books are really good! Definitely check them out sometime. And you're right the newer remake was awful--but I do want to see the 1960s version, which I've heard good things about. I think I might splurge and order it as it's very cheap on Amazon.

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