Book Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Title: The Haunting of Hill House
Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Horror
Date Read: 25/10/2015 – 27/10/2015
Rating: ★★★


hillhousecoverSince my partner and I decided to get into Halloween this year (despite the fact that Halloween is nowhere near as big in Australia as it is in America, and it does feel a bit weird having it in spring), I decided I would read some scary books in the lead-up. I had seen Shirley Jackson’s books a lot on GoodReads, so I decided these would be a good place to start.

Except. Well. I get scared really easily. And I don’t especially enjoy being scared. So I decided I would read the Wikipedia synopsis of this book first, just so I knew what I was getting into. And I think this probably spoiled me a bit too much, as I ended up finding the book very quaint, and not so atmospheric.

The book is from the point-of-view of Eleanor Vance, who is one of a few people chosen by Doctor Montague to spend a month in Hill House, a eighty-year-old house that no one can spend more than a few days in. Strange things happen to them, and Eleanor begins to be unsure of what is really happening and what is in her head.

For most of the book, I thought that I would only give it two stars, but then the last chapter really brought out that atmospheric eeriness that everyone else had been talking about in their reviews, and that was what upped it to three stars. As I said, I think I knew too much coming into it, so most of the scenes that might have been chilling or eerie had more of a “Oh, yeah, it’s this bit now” effect.

Eleanor is an unreliable narrator, and as such I never quite knew how to take to her. Sometimes what she was thinking and what she was saying were at odds with one another, and at other times she seemed quite at ease. Luke was quite charming, Theodora was my favourite, Doctor Montague was really there as a means to an end. There were a couple of other characters who provided comic relief but after a while they became a bit overbearing.

Having said all of that, this book was probably at just the level of scary that I can manage. I wasn’t 100% sure I would be able to finish it, so the dated-ness actually helped in that respect.