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.

#WWW Wednesday – 28 October, 2015

wwwwednesdayYeesh, how is it already the end of October? Time flies. Once again it is Wednesday, and that means it’s WWW Wednesday. I have the day off today to work on the essay I have due in a week and a half, so I can’t spend too much time writing this post. At time of writing, it’s not quite 8am, and I have showered, breakfasted, and written my 100 words for today, so I’m not doing too badly. Once uni is over for the year, I’m going to up my writing goals for the following few months, and I’m rather looking forward to that, but 100 words is small enough to squeeze in somewhere in the meantime.

Anyway. WWW is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words and you can join in over there by leaving a link to your own WWW Wednesday on today’s post. All you need to do is answer the three questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

Still going with The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. It’s quite slow-paced and I’m a quarter of the way through and the two titular characters are yet to meet, but I am enjoying the writing. I am more of a fan of the Golem than the Djinni, though he’s all right, too.

Inkheart is still on hold while I finish my other library books.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, which certainly had its moments but for the most part felt a bit dated. I’m trying to read a few scary books in the lead-up to Halloween. We’re Australian, so Halloween isn’t really a thing, and it’s the wrong season and feels kind of funny, but my partner and I are going to read gothic poetry by candlelight on Saturday night, which will be fun. We’re in a block of flats, so even if there are trick-or-treaters around (it’s becoming more popular, but nowhere near US levels), they probably won’t come to us, but I’m going to have a packet of chocolates on stand-by just in case. And if no one comes, I’ll just have to eat them. Oh, the humanity.

Sorry, this paragraph ended up on a tangent.

Oh! Also, Hill House was my 52nd book of the year, so I have completed my GoodReads reading challenge ten weeks early!

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have We Have Always Lived in the Castle, also by Shirley Jackson, and the first two volumes of Return to Labyrinth from the library. I also want to start reading some of the writing books I’ve bought off Amazon recently. Originally I was waiting until I’d finished my current WIP, but I want to read them now so that I know which method I might want to try first as soon as the current WIP is finished.

All right, that’s it from me. Don’t forget to visit Sam’s blog to find other WWW Wednesday posts! Now I’m off to try to start an essay.

~ Emily