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Friday, October 23, 2020

My Review of "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill HouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

People raved about this book, and as a horror reader and writer, I was embarrassed I hadn't read it. So I finally listened to it on audible as I drove cross-country.

Jackson's writing style if vivid and her craft is excellent. Her characters were well-fleshed, and she could evoke a gothic atmosphere, something I craved. But....

The main point-of-view character, Eleanor (or "Nell") is purposely fragile and naïve, having lived in a very controlling household with no real life of her own until she escaped to the Hill House project. But her frequent "episodes" of daydreaming and her overwhelming second-guessing of herself became very, very tedious. The other characters, though, didn't bother me. In fact, I found Dr. Montague very compelling and is wife, who shows up to act as a self-appointed medium, hilarious. The house caretaker, Mrs. Dudley, was stern to the point of being a caricature of herself.

More troublesome than Nell's character, though, was the fact that certain plot points never really seemed to come full circle. I won't give away anything, but I found the motivations of the spirits in the house and their activities and manifestations to be almost random. Clearly they focus on "fragile Nell", but by the end of the book I was scratching my head to figure out what much of it had to do with anything, and it all took a back seat to Eleanor's self-doubting. When the end of the book came, I was frankly happy when fate met her. 

Cheers and happy reading!

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