THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
Written by Shirley Jackson
Published by Arcturus Publishing in 2018 (Originally published Oct 16, 1959)
My star rating – 4.5 stars
Rumors of psychic disturbances surround Hill House. Are they caused by a ghostly presence, or are the reasons for the building’s terrifying and mysterious reputation altogether more mundane?
When Eleanor Vance is invited to join a group of ghost hunters to assess the strange happenings at the house, she jumps at the chance. But what begins as a simple experiment soon turns into the stuff of nightmares.
Shirley Jackson’s chilling tale is one of the twentieth century’s most effective and unsettling ghost stories.
I’m going to come right out and say it – I hate classics. Sorry! But they’re such a struggle for me. The language is probably the biggest barrier for me and I struggle with the pacing a lot as well. So when I heard that the show, which has the same name, was based on this book, I was apprehensive as all hell. Not only because of the fact that it was written in the 50’s, but also because I heard that the only thing similar to the show were the names and the title….. that’s most definitely true! You’ve been warned! So please, don’t go into this with that connection in mind because it’s going to impact how you feel about this book. Keep an open mind and a blank slate going into this and realize that they’re two completely different things and I think you’ll do just fine.
Apprehension aside, this book was a serious surprise!!! We are introduced to Hill House as a place were a lot of paranormal things are happening. A doctor invites people to the house as an experiment of sorts. He asks people who have prior paranormal experiences to come and stay in the house in hopes that they will see and experience things here as well. When Eleanor (Nell) was a child, she experienced rocks falling from the sky onto her house after the death of her father. Theodora (Theo) was invited due to her ability to identify cards in a deck without seeing them. And Luke, who was a relative of the family who owned the house, was invited as a courtesy, to watch over what was happening during this experiment.
Hill House has a dark past. Built by a man who wanted a grand place for his family to live, this dream of his didn’t turn out how he planned. His wife was on her way to the house and died in an accident upon arrival. The children lived a sad childhood and eventually fell apart as they fought over who had rights to the house after their fathers death. So much sadness, death, and strange events gave way to a reputation to this mysterious house. There’s so much more to this story but – spoilers!
One thing that this book excels at – atmosphere! I highly recommend reading this book on a dark and windy night….. the noises will make you nervous! The characters all come to this house and try to navigate its size while also learning of their new house mates and their purpose for being there. I can tell you that it’s basically split into two – day and night. During the day we get a lot of conversation and exploration. And at night, we see all the strange and scary events, some of which creeped me the hell out! If you’ve read this (or plan on reading it), chapter 5 made me stop reading and try to smooth away the goosebumps!
But it’s not all things that go bump in the night. Yes, there are spooky and ghost like elements, but it’s so much more than that. In fact, when I first finished this book, I only rated it 3 stars. I went into it expecting it to be 100% paranormal and it isn’t. Don’t be like me and expect something and make presumptions!!!
Eleanor is a troubled girl. She cared for her mother who seemed to hate everything about her. Even her relationship with her sister was sad and heartbreaking. Eleanor never felt as though she was loved or had a purpose of her own. So, when she was invited to Hill House, she began to look at it as some direction in her life. She could be who she wanted to be and, the most important thing, she was wanted. It was really interesting to see her on her own for once but her troubled past was always on her heels. And there’s this grey line where you really wonder if it’s paranormal or mental illness.
Now, because I went into this expecting paranormal, I was disappointed at first (hence the 3 stars). I kept trying to spin everything to be a ghostly figure and it wasn’t. This was more of a book about a woman who is devastated emotionally, trying desperately to find love, acceptance, and a home. She attempted to grasp the threads of friendship and when those threads were cut, shit would happen. I’m not saying that all of the things that happened in this book were related to her mental illness (seriously, all the shit that woman went through, I’d be messed up in my own head too!!), but if you really sit down and explore that aspect, I think you’ll gain a whole new appreciation of this book!
I buddy read this with a fellow blogger/YouTuber and that was honestly the best thing that I could have done. Having someone to talk to about the events and possibilities of this book made me see it in a whole new light. I had so many questions and being able to talk them through, and seeing things from her perspective that I missed myself – mind blowing! I strongly suggest that you do a little research (including spoilers obviously) after you finish it. The more you learn about the authors intentions, the more you’ll love this book in the end!
So if you need a good creepy book that will make you think for weeks after you’ve finished it – this is the one! I finished it a few weeks ago and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it and reading articles! It’s really amazing what she accomplished!!
Until next time, happy reading!