by Shirley Jackson
If you haven’t already indulged in some literary eeriness this October, there’s still time. And if you like your seasonal reading both creepy and critically loved, why not step this way?
Widely hailed as one of the best haunted house tales of all time, Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House is an excellent example of supernatural fiction that incorporates a healthy dose of psychological terror. In fact, there are several distinct opinions held by fans and critics regarding the nature of the story’s frightening elements. Thankfully, we won’t go into that minor debate here.
The story itself concerns four individuals coming together to spend a summer in Hill House, an old country estate with a less than happy history. Managing the proceedings is a doctor who aims to document paranormal activity in the house and who has invited individuals with past unexplained phenomena to join him in the experiment. Only two show up, while a third person – the eventual heir to the house – joins the group to represent the family interests.
The author gives each character a distinct personality, but events in the week that follows are primarily seen through the eyes of Eleanor, one of the two respondents who accept the doctor’s invitation. Our peek into Eleanor’s emotional and mental landscape reveals a complex inner life, putting Jackson’s literary talent on full display. A far cry from blunt, gory, or hardcore horror, this classy ghost story can still deliver a memorably chilling experience.
Also, be sure not to miss the superb 1963 film adaptation!…
…without confusing it with this other film, of course…which is fun in its own, Vincent-Price-ish way…
…and has its own remake, unsurprisingly.
Plenty to enjoy with a day left in October!