The Haunting of Hill House: My Thoughts
By Shirley Jackson
I really enjoyed this book.The characters were well formed,distinct and the prose was very nice, the flow was excellent. As with I would suppose most ghost stories/movies, it starts slow and amps up. I had no problem with that but be warned the really prominent perhaps paranormal(ooh idk xD) weird stuff start happening after the 60% mark.
I would actually like to mention here that this seminal work isn’t really poised as a gothic novel meant to necessarily scare you. It’s actually as I guess anyone with interest in the novel would know, more in line with a character study.
To speak of this as a character study I have nothing but praise. As Eleanor’s grip on reality loosens, the writing gets foggier, it all amps up to this dreamy sleepwalking tone where we often shift abruptly across the cause and the aftermath and are left wondering if anything at all did happen. The events have I guess you know, very vague details and it’s really enjoyable for an actively imaginative mind though fans of sheer visceral descriptive horror will think of this as too much out there and not enough truly fact,accounts,narratively scary, which I will grant you is a fair argument and very much important to how much you enjoy this book. I just have to say this but Shirley Jackson is incredibly skilled and I really loved how Eleanor’s regard of the other characters changes over the book, and in the end, shifts incredibly scarily across the whole emotional spectrum in mere fuckin sentences. The craft is incredible here and yeah. Yeah.
A few flaws. While I get the introduction of the Professor’s wife so late in the novel helps us contrast quite a bit, I really think it hampers the narrative. I get that they are there to show the difference between being new to Hill House and staying there for even 5 days but I really found the two characters honestly insufferable. They cut short the emotional impact, which I guess helps root this in reality and lend a sharp metaphor of mental illness to it. But the characters felt so bossy and self-important, I read somewhere that it adds comic relief but I felt more than happy with the comic relief offered by Mrs.Dudley’s dead ass tone which besides humor also adds a level of fear of the unknown and uncertainty of the importance of past events(?) It just felt ominous and just enough comic with Mrs.Dudley. Ah yes I actually also liked that one specific late book part where she talks normally that one time in the whole book which, I just loved that part.
So yeah all in all, uhm don’t go into this hoping to be scared. Don’t also go into this expecting really great character development across the board, it’s only Eleanor here. It’s a very weird book for which I like it, it’s part horror part girl-going-crazy character study idk I appreciate the weirdness and the mish-mash. Fun book, good ending, good solid writing. Yes.