Monday, June 06, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 28 - The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)by Shirley Jackson

Started: June 6
Finished: June 10

Notes: The last book I read has me in the mood for some darker material, though not quite horror, so I figured it was time I got around to this classic novel. I've read one other novel by Shirley Jackson, and a bunch of her short stories, having enjoyed it all, so this should be a natural for me.

Mini review: Perhaps the best ghost story, or at least haunted house story, I've ever read. The first half of the book was interesting, but built a little slowly for my taste. But about the middle of the book, things changed. It was not a drastic change, not one that occurred in a matter of a few words, but more or a mental/emotional change that comes over the reader, or at least it did in my case. This novel is spooky. I don't mean to imply it's scary, as most modern horror fiction attempts to be, but spooky. There is no overt terror to be found here. There is no bogeyman who jumps out at you. The horror here, the fear, is much, much more subtle. The reader can never tell what is real and what is not, and there's no full revelation, nothing to plant before the reader as an explanation. There are hints. There are suggestions. But nothing is truly unveiled. From my studies, it seems obvious Jackson meant this as a fairly straight-forward haunted house tale, but one of the delights with this novel is that it can be read on so many more levels. Is the house really haunted? If so, who is the ghost? Or is there more than one ghost? If the house is not haunted, then what causes the strangest of the events? Are one or more of the guests in the house actually telekinetic or telepathic without realizing it? Or is one or more of the guests simply going insane? Or were they insane all along? This book reminds me somewhat of Shakespeare's Hamlet in that there are no solid answers to the main questions that come to the readers mind. Was Hamlet insane? Or was he simply acting? Or was something else, an outside influence, involved?

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

One of my favorite books.