The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is... different. Part of it is the fact that it is old. Originally published in 1959, it is a different breed of book. Classic horror is the only way to describe it.

Set in the summer hills of a small New England town, Hill House is a classic haunted house tale. The members of Hill House were invited by Dr. Montague, a scholar trying to research paranormal activity. Theodora, Eleanor, Luke, and Dr Montague stay in Hill House in an attempt to uncover it's secrets. Joined by the housekeeper (but only for parts of the day!) and later on Dr. Montague's wife and her friend Arthur, the members of this little group are beginning to feel that something is indeed off. Eleanor attracts the most attention, and her reaction to that is bizarre. As the group experiences more troubling activity, Eleanor becomes more enmeshed in the happenings of Hill House. Will they make it out alive and uncover the secrets of Hill House, or will they, like many others, flee from the home and never return?

I must admit that I never would have picked this book up if it wasn't for The Peril of the Group Read for RIPIX hosted by The Estella Society. Andi and Heather always read great books, so of course I knew that I had to join in their readalong and read The Haunting of Hill House. I wasn't disappointed.
This was a bit different for me, seeing as it was a classic thriller and I'm more of a big show fright fest. The Haunting of Hill House is much more subtle. It was an eerie tale, that I think back in 1959 would be terrifying. By today's standards, it doesn't pack that punch. It is beautifully crafted though, and the descriptions are detailed enough to help you really build a picture of the old mansion that is Hill House. As far as the characters go, we don't delve too deep into any of them except Eleanor. On the surface, I liked her, but she was a bit drab and boring. By the end, I liked her though, especially after she realy became enmeshed in the house. Theo annoyed me the entire time, to be honest - she was a brat. Luke and Dr. Montague were both just kind of there... I'm a bit indifferent on my opinion of the two. Dr. Montague's wife, however, was an absolute horror. I couldn't stand her and repeatedly thought about how much I would have enjoyed punching her in the face if I was with them. For the most part, the House itself was it's own character. Jackson really poured effort into describing the house and giving it personality.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I wouldn't have ever picked it up, but I liked the change of pace and the difference that was old school horror novel. It was a slow build to a steady end, and gave me pause about old haunted houses.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

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