The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Genre: Suspense, Gothic Fiction
Publication Date: 1984 (Originally published 1959)
The Short Version:
A psychic researcher gathers a select group of people to spend some time at a haunted house for a research project.
Why I Read It:
This has been on my TBR list for ages and the readalong hosted by The Estella Society this month finally got me to buy a copy and read it.
From the Publisher:
Past the rusted gates and untrimmed hedges, Hill House broods and waits…
Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own…
I just love the way Shirley Jackson lets the tension build gradually and subtly. Beginning with an introduction of the characters and their arrival at Hill House the stage is set to for what Dr. Montague plans. “Dr. Montague‟s intentions with regard to Hill House derived from the methods of the intrepid nineteenth-century ghost hunters; he was going to go and live in Hill House and see what happened there.”
There is nothing gruesome or gory that happens, There is no real sighting of anything that could be termed a ghost. What there is however, is a series of incidents that might be readily explained away but also might be something truly creepy.
Eleanor is the one who is most troubled by what she hears and experiences at Hill House but how much of that is the house and how much is Eleanor being rather unstable? It’s hard to know but as the story continues it’s clear that no matter what the reason Eleanor is deeply affected by what is happening.
I liked the way the creepiness gradually increased. While at several points I was ready to dismiss this book as a light thriller it did leave me with a definite sense of unease. I’m glad I don’t have any visits to creepy old houses in my near future.