The Haunting of Hill House
There are two ways to read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. For the weak of heart, start early enough to finish while it is still light out. You won’t be quite as frightened come nightfall. Hopefully. For the brave, at midnight, under a blanket with a flashlight. It’s always more fun when you’re scared out of your mind, and there is a reason why Jackson’s novel is regarded as one of the greatest horror stories written.
Hill House has a reputation that has everything to do with the supernatural. This attracts the attention of Dr. John Montague who brings together a group of people with ties to the paranormal in the hopes of finding out more about the strange house. But this isn’t your Scooby-Doo variety ghost hunt, especially after one participant, Eleanor Vance, begins feeling the strange effects of Hill House. Every chill Eleanor feels, each deathly wail she hears, and ghostly form she sees, transfixes the reader and draws them deeper into the subtle deftly written mood of torment and distress. As the characters fall victim to the horrors in the house, readers fall victim to the traps and tricks Jackson weaves in the plot until all that’s left are clammy hands and a sense of dread.
It’s nearly impossible to read The Haunting of Hill House without hearing random noises or seeing movement out of the corner of you eye. While reading Jackson’s book, the phrase “there’s no place like home” never seemed so ominous.
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.