Book Reviews: The Haunting of Hill House
Thursday, November 18, 2010Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
Dr. Montague is a scientist attempting to prove the supernatural exists. To further his study he invites a small group of people to summer at Hill House, which is supposedly haunted. The invitation is accepted by Eleanor, a socially awkward, nervous woman and Theo, an outgoing beauty. Luke, who will one day inherit the house, also joins the gathering. Soon things start happening and all four people wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into.
Jackson’s ghost story has a similar feel to Henry James’ Turning of the Screw and Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger. You know things are happening in the house, but you don’t know for sure whether it’s the inhabitants madness or ghosts or a combination of both.
Eleanor, who is the focus of the book, seems to have a predisposition to mental instability. She’s insecure and temperamental, a bit like a child. Her issues give the whole book and extra layer of creepiness and desperation.
Side Note: About 20 pages into the book I realized that the 1999 movie “The Haunting” was clearly based on it. I also watched the original film, also titled “The Haunting” after finishing the book. The older version stays much closer to the book and the spookiness factor is high. The movie “The House on Haunted Hill” actually has nothing to do with this book.