Posted by: jacstar | October 8, 2008

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This is a story about four people who stay at a place called Hill House. The house itself was designed and built by a crazy, abstract thinker. Everything is angled and crooked but only slightly, not enough to be visible. The house is said to be corrupt and never inhabited for more than three days at a time.

Dr. Montague searched high and low for the best haunted house for his experiment. He chooses three others to join him in the house. Eleanor (Nell) and Theodora were chosen for their unique past experiences with clairvoyance and poltergeists. Luke is the fourth who agrees to stay in Hill House as the rightful heir to watch over Dr. Montague’s ‘experiments.’

The caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Dudley make brief appearances throughout the day but never past sundown. The four are joined by Mrs. Montague and her right-hand man, Arthur. Each night they find a new paranormal occurrence and we’re left to wonder if it’s all in their heads, or if it is truly possible for a house to be so corrupt and evil.

I chose this novel because it appears on a top 5 scariest books ever written list. I believe that this probably should NOT have made the cut. I found it to be more humourous than anything – particularly the “introduction” scene where everyone declares who they are based on who they are not, “I must be Eleanor, because you are wearing the red sweater.” I thought this was clever.

After some time, I found that Eleanor’s insecurities become quite annoying, and her conspiracy theories are a little off the wall. Maybe that was the point, to show how she slowly goes crazy in the house, but I found myself rolling my eyes more than anything. I also wanted Mrs. Montague to die a horrible death. THAT would have made for a great ending, or at least have some sort of secret affair between her and Arthur.

But alas, my overactive imagination has gotten the best of me. The end of this novel leaves you saying “that’s it?”



  1. That’s the problem with Top anything lists – at the end of the day, it’s just an opinion of someone else who may have nothing in common with the majority of others.

    And there’s nothing worse than “is that it?” endings – unless they’re meant to be deliberately vague, of course 😉

  2. Hmmm…this one sounds pretty interesting. I do hate those endings that leave you wanting to rewrite the whole book yourself, though! LOL Thanks for the review. 🙂

  3. LOL there are a few things I would change given the opportunity for re-write… Just like “The Village” by M Knight Shmamalamam – that movie was horrible – i actually stood up in the theatre and said “SOMEONE JUST DIE ALREADY”

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