by Shirley Jackson

Reviewer Rating:


It's unfortunate that Shirley Jackson's classic 1959 horror novel The Haunting of Hill House will be associated with the terrible 1999 adaptation (re-titled The Haunting). The Haunting of Hill House seems like a classic haunted house story we've all seen before: a house with a tragic history on the outskirts of town no one will go near, a doctor trying to explain the unexplained, a group of people who brave the rumors to stay there. In this case, Dr. Montague invites a small group to stay at Hill House so he can research the strange goings on that occur there. The group includes the house's future inheritor, a carefree young woman, and Eleanor Vance, an awkward woman who may or may not have experienced a psychic episode in her youth. Hill House seems to have quite an affinity for Eleanor, and as time goes on she begins to walk the line between madness and sanity. Jackson's novel is low on gore but high in psychological terror, which I thought made it much scarier than something much more blood-soaked. Jackson's prose is clean and the novel is surprisingly humorous, but can take a turn to frightening in the blink of an eye. Stephen King may be the most prolific horror writer around, but he owes an enormous debt to Jackson.

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