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Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House Dr Montague an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Luke the adventurous future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor a friendless fragile young woman with a dark past As they begin to cope with chilling even horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding they cannot possibly know what lies ahead For Hill House is gathering its powers and soon it will choose one of them to make its own

10 thoughts on “The Haunting οf Hill House

  1. says:

    The Haunting of Hill House 1959 is justly revered as an exemplar of the horror genre not only because its plot provides the template for all those haunted house tales to come but also because its superb prose and subtle psychology transcend genre transforming what might otherwise have been merely a sensational tale into a artful novel worthy of a discerning readerThe novel suffers from its own pervasive influence for as soon as it gets underway it seems—whether or not you've seen either movie version—woefully familiar Dr Montague stuffy old scientific type wishing to investigate a haunted house enlists the aid of Eleanor shyretiring type Theodora flamboyant bohemian type and Luke handsome upper class type the heir to the house At first by daylight things don't seem half bad but then night comes and well you get idea Of course you do You've heard it all beforeWhat you have not heard before however is the intelligent tone or the distinctive music of her prose Witness part of the description of Hill House early in the second chapter as seen through the eyes of Eleanor This house which seemed somehow to have formed itself flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles reared its great head back against the sky without concession to humanity It was a house without kindness never meant to be lived in not a fit place for people or for love or for hope What a wonderful repetition of “for” in the last sentence Instead I probably would have written “not a fit place for people love or hope” And I would have been wrongIn addition to its prose the book's subtle psychology—similar to James' Turn of the Screw interests and entrances the reader with its ambiguity Are the phenomena real or caused by one of the experimenters? Is the house possessing them or is one of them possessing the house? Shirley Jackson is too good a writer to decide for us We must choose to decide—or not to decide—for ourselvesThe book would have my highest praise except for the fact that the infuriating Mrs Montague and her pompous friend Arthur Parker brought in three uarters of the way through to ease tension and give comic relief are not only unnecessary but dissipate tension rather than relieve it Besides the laconic creepy Mrs Dudley “I don't stay after six Not after it begins to get dark is plenty of comic relief all by herselfBut Mrs M and her friend P are but a minor flaw Give The Haunting of Hill House a chance It is in addition to being a classic of the genre an excellent novel

  2. says:

    Erm This book was lent to me with the assurance that it was one of the ten or so greatest horror novels of all time So just having finished it I'm already forgetting having read it The two stars it gets are because uite literally it was ok Jackson has an interesting writing style and an ear for consistent if not always realistic uirky dialogue But the characters spend so much time being weirdly objective about their own fears that when bad stuff happens I feel sort ofobjective about it The book veers between said objectivity and long hallucinatory 'scary' bits but I found those bits sort of messily written and vague to the point of being coy and just scanned through themI dunno it's like a bunch of hipstery academic fucks try to have an adventure and instead spend most of the time discussing the adventure they're currently having instead of actually having itOh and the last ten pages got a little focused and they were sort of creepy but I was kind of forcing it because I really wanted to get something out of the book than I actually did The end

  3. says:

    I'm falling in love with this book all over again as I re read it The premise is that of a science experiment an academic exercise to test the reality of house haunting I love the fact that the opening pages essentially replicate the clinical nature of the premise here's the chief investigator here are the three other characters all described at a clinical remove before we get into the story itself A contemporary editor might have said Cut this out and get right to the story but to me these opening pages are wonderful little character studies Then we follow Eleanor the main character as she takes the car she shares with her sister and drives to Hill House Again it takes a few pages to get there but it allows for wonderful scenes where her imagination takes flight or where she interacts awkwardly with the townsfolk in the nearest small town The interaction in the diner is classic Shirley Jackson capturing the suspicion and unease and boredom of small town lifeNow for the house itself I'd forgotten just what a genius description of the Hill House we're treated to when Eleanor first sees it I find it fascinating that Jackson describes the house for nearly two pages without ever physically describing it other than to say it's enormous and dark and has steps leading up to a veranda And yetwe somehow know it intimately nonetheless It's presented as being alive as being almost a lover who enshadows Eleanor when she walks up those steps and in that description you get not only a sense of the house itself but a sense of Eleanor of her loneliness and perhaps even madness She's afraid of Hill House in the same way she'd be afraid of a lover Here is this strong presence who threatens to swallow her up and in a way when she walks in a sort of Gothic romance is bornThe moment when Eleanor first meets Theodora is so brilliantly done Eleanor is at the top of the stairs looking down and she begins talking before you realize there's anyone else there Thank heaven you're here she says To whom? Is there anyone really? Maybe not Maybe Eleanor is mad It's a disorienting moment and then Eleanor sees Mrs Dudley but Eleanor is still not described as seeing anyone else until Theodora introduces herself But even then there is no physical description of Theodora there's just a voice I'm Theodora Is this all in Eleanor's head? WowThere really is so little physical description of the other characters with the possible exception of Doctor Montague who's described as round and rosy and bearded and who looked as though he might be suitably established before a fire in a pleasant little sitting room with a cat on his knee and a rosy little wife to bring him jellied scones I love that description but what amazes even is how the other characters really aren't described at all Only the house is tangible in a wayI love the playfulness in Shirley Jackson and the first conversation when all four characters are sitting around talking is a marvelous example of it They're playing a game inventing whimsical characters for themselves but all is not pure fun there's the flash of Eleanor's jealousy when Theodora gives Luke a uick understanding glance the same kind of glance she had earlier given Eleanor Beneath the fun and games lies something deadly seriousThe relationship between Theodora and Eleanor makes me think of a major theme in this book sisterhood You have Eleanor and her sister of course at the beginning of the book and then the tale of the orphaned sisters who lived in Hill House and then Eleanor and Theodora themselves who uickly become like sisters All those relationships are marked and marred by jealousy one that lies just beneath the polite surface of things FascinatingInteresting to study how Jackson builds the sense of disuiet throughout the novel She does it through so many small decisions like the one I mentioned earlier where she doesn't physically describe her characters There's also a wonderful moment at the beginning of Chapter 4 where Eleanor and Theodora wake up after the first uneventful night at Hill House It's a small moment yet so revealing of Jackson's techniue Theodora is in the bathroom taking a bath Eleanor is in her room looking out the window Then in the very next paragraph with no transition whatsoever Theodora is suddenly pounding on the bathroom door telling Eleanor to hurry up What? It takes a moment to realize what has happened to realize that now Eleanor is in the bath and Theordora is outside waiting for her It's a startling jump cut to use a movie term Jackson is constantly doing that sort of thing unsettling the reader's expectations making us realize that anything can happen and we can't rely on the usual narrative logic It's so subtle yet so masterfulI've been thinking of the line that Eleanor keeps uoting Journeys end in lovers meeting I didn't know this before but it's actually from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night it's a line sung by the fool in that play Does this have any significance for Jackson's novel? I'm not sure It's an interesting line in and of itself so revealing of Eleanor's romantic desires the way she seems so attracted to Theodora and to Hill House itself She has the overwhelming sense that she belongs here that she's part of this slapdash family of people staying at the house She's excited; she's happy; she's constantly afraid of missing something In short she's having the time of her life This is her journey's end and she's met her lover or lovers and she relishes every momentBut then things start to turn the relationship between Eleanor and Theodora starts to fray It's begins with something immensely small Theodora painting Eleanor's toenails red without Eleanor's permission It's a small moment but Eleanor harkens back to it later when Theodora is frightened by the bloody creepy words painted on her wall HELP ELEANOR COME HOME ELEANOR Theodora is badly shaken and they all wonder if it's really blood and of course who put it there Suspicion immediately falls on Eleanor and you can see her struggle with what to say her thoughts veering back to the red of her toenails and focusing on the fact that Theodora will now have to stay in her room and wear her clothes and you can't help wonder if all this is Eleanor's elaborate revenge Even afterwards as they're all sitting talking Eleanor's anger can't help coming through in her thoughts I would like to hit her with a stick Eleanor thought looking down on Theodora's head beside her chair; I would like to batter her with rocks We see the fraying not only of the relationship but of Eleanor's mind Suddenly she feels suddenly like an outsider like someone who's apart from the others she sees how they stare at her how they scrutinize what she says as odd things begin to slip out in her speech and she begins to wonder what she's been saying how much she's been revealing of herselfMrs Montague is a wonderful character who bursts onto the scene in all her grand foolishness But like Shakespeare's fools she is perceptive in her own way in this case about Eleanor's relationship with her mother which is one of Eleanor's dark secrets and which Mrs Montague perceives after her session with planchette a Ouija board There's a dark horror at the heart of it which we can't uite grasp and it's all conveyed by this great fool and so shot through with her bombastic comedy that it leaves the reader unsure whether to laugh or cringe or bothI will try not to give too much away of the ending I'll just say that it's fascinating to watch Eleanor her rage her jealousy her giddiness How she perceives the other characters how she watches them and listens to them and to the house itself how she hurtles toward the end I am doing this all by myself now at last; this is me I am really really really doing it by myself And then that amazing ending recapitulating the opening and that final word alone capturing a sense of the house as a sentient being much like Eleanor herself Just breathtaking A truly remarkable book

  4. says:

    ”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 so for eighty years and might stand for eighty Within walls continued upright bricks met neatly floors were firm and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House and whatever walked there walked alone”The opening paragraph gives me my first tingle of unease ”Whatever walked there walked alone” I am already conjuring up malevolent thoughts about what kind of creature could be haunting the hallways of Hill House in the dead of night Is it a ghost demon beast or something new? Or is it just a manifestation of fear unattached to anything existing outside the mind? Dr John Montague wants to conduct a thorough scientific investigation of Hill House He has asked Eleanor Vance Theodora just Theodora and Luke Sanderson to join him Eleanor and Theodora are selected because they have experienced phenomenon before and both exhibit minds that are receptive to psychic and telekinetic occurrences Luke is the heir of Hill House and the host of this inuiry Mrs Dudley caretaker from a nearby town is only in the house during very regimented times to serve meals ”’I don’t stay after I set out dinner‘ Mrs Dudley went on ‘Not after it begins to get dark I leave before dark comes’‘I know’ Eleanor said‘We live over in the town six miles away’‘Yes’ Eleanor said remembering Hillsdale‘So there won’t be anyone around if you need help’‘I understand’‘We couldn’t even hear you in the night’‘I don’t suppose ’‘No one could No one lives any nearer than the town No one else will come any nearer than that’‘I know’ Eleanor said tiredly‘In the night’ Mrs Dudley said and smiled outright ‘In the dark’ she said and closed the door behind herEleanor almost giggled thinking of herself calling ‘Oh Mrs Dudley I need your help in the dark’ and then she shivered”Mrs Dudley despite being creepy on par with Mrs Danvers from Rebecca actually provides some comic relief throughout the story as her pedantic adherence to keeping to a specific time table amuses the guests and relieves some of the growing oppressiveness of fear that the house is beginning to impose upon the guests Later when Mrs Montague wife of the doctor and her chauffeur Arthur arrive they too provide some comic relief through her fussiness and bossiness and Arthur’s boneheaded machismoIf horror is handled right especially in films the audience should have moments where they gasp cringe and laugh sometimes all at the same time Shirley Jackson understood that people in terrifying situations are experiencing a roller coaster of emotions to the point that giggling and screaming are eually normal reactions to adverse conditions Instead of being annoying Mrs Dudley’s insistence on structure in the midst of chaos is hilarious Eleanor is the central character to the story With the death of her mother she is finally free to experience life When the summons from Montague comes she is determined to attend the investigation at Hill House Even if someone had told her the house contains a cult and she was destined to be sacrificed on a blood altar it would not have deterred her She attaches herself to Luke and then to Theodora It is easy to see that she has never really had friends before and is hungry for acceptance Theodora is beautiful cruel and caring in eual measures She is living with a “friend” and somehow without Jackson writing a word of corroboration I catch a whiff of lesbianism which of course if spelled out would have been too much for an audience in 1959 and would have overwhelmed and detracted from the plot Still I love the way Jackson so cunningly plants the seed in the dark of the night and it is morning before I realize that I have been left a clueThe house reacts to Eleanor the most with sprawled messages evoking her name She hears things and sees things that the others cannot The transition is interesting to experience as Eleanor goes from being irritated and terrified about being singled out to finding it strangely comforting ”None of them heard it she thought with joy; nobody heard it but me” If people won’t accept her maybe a haunted house will The house is built at angles in such a way that a person is perpetually discombobulated The compass in the mind is confused as rooms that one thinks should be just overhead are actually on the other side of the house The front door appears where it logically shouldn’t be Even with other people around everyone feels isolated and untethered Those feelings are continually magnified by occurrences that give the house power beyond what an inanimate object should have Manifestations happen The air turns Arctic cold in spots They are tricked by illusions Something knocks on their doors vigorously enough to nearly spring the hinges The uestion of who or what is behind all this remains elusive but the chills and thrills continue to frighten ”Little pattings came from around the doorframe small seeking sounds feeling the edges of the door trying to sneak a way in The doorknob was fondling and Eleanor whispering asked ‘Is it locked?’ and Theodora nodded”No one is as affected as Eleanor and soon the Doctor realizes that he has to get her out of the house but Eleanor feels like she has finally come home Someone something wants her “I am really doing it I am doing this all by myself now at last; this is me I am really really really doing it by myself”Skeptics and believers can both read and enjoy this story Jackson leaves much up to the reader to interpret Bread crumbs lead the reader down a hallway only to see the crumbs split into two paths going opposite directions Your natural tendencies will lead you down the path of your own choosing Whatever conclusions you come to will be supportable and refutable The one thing I hope we can all agree on is that this is a masterpiece and this story’s influence on literature is incontestable If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  5. says:

    This book is not about fear but rather about the love of being afraid for the ravenous gauging of limits Adrenaline is searched for neurosis a dreadful collective paranoia ensues cause naturally follows effectBooks are freuently very good carriers Materializations are often best produced in rooms where there're books I cannot think of any time when material was in any way hampered by the presence of books 186There is an aura of authentic literary splicing here the psychological novel think Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and the horror of microsocieties doing their malignant will type stories think The Lottery as exceptional a short story as this is a superb haunted house prototype an ingenious fountainhead for all future horror maestros to drink from The haunted house is in actuality a person who is on the precipice the verge of disaster; here is the uintessential tome about the inner demons becoming unleashed and wreaking havoc in horrific waysA handsome legend an essential myth There would be significantly scant haunted house lore without this gothic gemPS EVERYONE READ THIS FOR THE HOLIDAYHALLOWEEN AUTUMN HARVEST SAMHEIN Whatev

  6. says:

    Shirley Jackson you saucy little devil where have you been all my life? I never knew she could spread prose like this This is an impressive bit of work and definitely belongs among the classics of literate horror novels Right from the first pitch you can see that Ms JacksonShirlis smitten with language and she uses it to great effect to create an emotionally charged disorientating atmosphere with healthy heapings of melodrama Very gothic in feel and actually reminded me of Wuthering Heights as far as the sense of emotional bleakness and dread that pervaded the narrative I say this a good thangalang as I am a true fanboy of Wuthering HeightsI thought Shirl's writing style was smooth and glassy and had nice flow It was also an utter mind trip and I blew my whole thought wad trying to keep up with her conflicting back and forth sense of is it real or unreal” is it genuine horror or psychological terror” I admit by the end of this fairly short novel I was as drained and spent as a sailor on a weekend pass to Vegas On the surface this appears to be a classic haunted house story with a professor of the supernatural renting Hill House in order to investigate the mysterious phenomena rud to have occurred within its oddly angled walls Along with Dr X file we have a Luke one of the heirs to the house Theodora and Eleanor Eleanor is our troubled main protag who has had a happlyless life of playing recluse while taking care of her ungrateful mommie dearest I don’t want to give away the plot so I will just say that almost immediately upon arriving at Hill House the guests begin to experience “oddness” in the form of lost emotional control muddled thinking unusual feelings and unexplained sensations and occurrences sort of like alcohol but no where near as pleasant These events begin to wear on each of them however nothing overtly supernatural is shown to the reader That is what was so yummy about the story is that Shirl leaves it up to the reader to determine what is really going on One thing is very clear thoughHill House and people do not a good combination make and there is a growing sense of dread over the whole narrative from the very beginning The terror is psychological whether real or not and the horror is all about atmosphere and “what if” rather than in your face Makes of a chilling intelligent taleTo sum upa terrific gothic story Well written engaging and with what I thought was a Fergaluscious ending that fit perfectly with the rest of the narrative I think this is a novel that could stay with you and should become even better upon subseuent readings 40 to 45 stars

  7. says:

    Hand me my damn smelling salts pleaseI feel like I'm recovering from the flu finishing this read It's been a disorienting time just like a nasty run in with influenza headaches sleeplessness fever delusions no cure for you until it's overWow I talked to this book always the scariest and most sincere sign of my personal devotion I apologized to Shirley Jackson aloud in my room alone I asked her to forgive me for not reading this before This ridiculously short little bullet of a brilliant novel that came out in 1959I mean could it be current? More essential for all writers?More intriguing for anyone anyone who loves to get lost in a story?Could it be wait for it labyrinthine? Never used that bad boy before so jazz handsAnd Eleanor Oh Eleanor I belonged to Eleanor and she to me by page 3 Eleanor Vance was thirty two years old when she came to Hill House The only person in the world she genuinely hated now that her mother was dead was her sister She could not remember ever being truly happy in her adult life; her years with her mother had been built up devotedly around small guilts and small reproaches constant weariness and unending despairSob and cringe and who can't relate on some level to an adult who feels completely alone in this world? By the time Eleanor admits her truth to the small crowd at Hill House she had my affection so completely I had to put down the book I was so moved by her honesty I haven't any apartment I made it up I sleep on a cot at my sister's in the baby's room I haven't any home no place at all No home Everything in all the world that belongs to me is in a carton in the back of my car That's all I have some books and things I had when I was a little girl and a watch my mother gave me So you see there's no place you can send meThe 1950s was a cruel time for a single female and frankly it's not that much better now A woman who can fit all of her possessions in one car and declares that a haunted house is the only place she belongs Well I cried right on the damn book Oh and in case you're wondering yes the story is scary as hell

  8. says:

    Why rehash what the 5 star reviewers say below? Why even engage the lame arguments by the people who didn't enjoy the book weak ending? unrealistic dialogue? not enough happens? Christ people have an imagination although I will say this they don't seem to be teaching kids what an unreliable narrator is in school nowadays as this book is all about Eleanor's weak and self centered take on her surroundings and how that slowly gets worked over by Hill House so an unreliable narration subsumed by an even less reliable narrationNeedless to say if you like subtle amazing writing an ending that if you have any kind of human feelings should tear your heart out; if you like well drawn characters who are of their times and psychologically complicated yes educated people did actually talk wittily to each other in days of yore it was called the art of conversation now go tweet someone about that awful egg McMuffintm you just ate and astonishing well controlled pacing and suspense what was chasing them on the black black path with the white white trees? I'm sure happy I wasn't told as not knowing was much effective then just pick up a copy of this one of the finest supernatural novels ever written lock the house light a candle and relax And PAY ATTENTION because every detail is important And don't trust the narrator because she can't trust herselfThis isn't a typical structured review for me THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is too well known to tread the ground with a plot synopsis I will add this little idea that came to me and which I posted on over in the Horror boardsSince the house seems to not be haunted by a spirit in a traditional haunted house way it certainly doesn't seem to be manifesting somethingsomeone specific because it seems to be an entity unto itself Hill House Hill House Hill House mocks Theo in a wonderfully subtle scene that proves her telepathy and because of some comments made by Eleanor late in the book when nearly gone and identifying wholly with the house and not her friends she refers to their clumsy heavy roughness I started to wonder if the answer to the uestion what haunts Hill House? isn't maybe Dr Montague and his team of psychics Hill House seems to be an entity unto itself and maybe it is irritated and pained by these weak sensitive emotional creatures infesting it and wants them out of the picture so it can continue to walk aloneAn amazing book by an amazing writer Respect it as much as Shirley Jackson respects you the reader

  9. says:

    I got this from the library and I can't figure out what to rate it so I had to go with a 3 for right now Here's the thing I loved the movies better than the book But I did enjoy the crazy through the rabbit hole ness of the book It's not scary in the least Not to me anyway But it's good weird and just uggg I can't explain it Anyway sorry so short I don't feel that good I wanted to do a longer review on this one 😕Mel ❤️

  10. says:

    Weird weird book But well worth the time reading itJackson was a masterful storyteller using a minimalistic approach and a terse almost journalistic narrative she creates a mood and sense of expectancy and mystery that grips the reader slowly and completely and lasts until the very end And unlike other ghost stories that struggle with an ending Jackson's haunted house tale brilliantly ends with the same mystery and psychological tension as the narrative held throughout she leaves the reader without a falsely satisfying conclusion A very good story told by a very good writer