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Search tags: Gothic-Horror
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review 2018-09-16 07:26
The Haunting of Hill House (audiobook) by Shirley Jackson, performed by David Warner
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,David Warner

I'll be brief, since I only just read and reviewed a paper copy of this back in June.

David Warner's narration was good, although I occasionally wished that a female narrator had been chosen instead, since he didn't always fit Eleanor and Theodora very well. From the look of things, both Audible and Kobo only have the version of this book narrated by Bernadette Dunn, which might potentially have worked better for me for that reason.

This is definitely one of those books that invites rereading. This time around, I knew what was going to happen and could therefore approach the story's events in a different way. Although I enjoyed that aspect and ended up with a new favorite interpretation of what happened, I was still frustrated with the way The Haunting of Hill House promised more of a ghost story than it actually delivered. It had some great creepy moments, and I just wanted more. Instead, I got several characters who became increasingly difficult to tolerate, and that ending.

I appreciated the ending more this time around than I did the first. In fact, taking my new interpretation of the story into account*, it was a perfectly logical and fitting ending. But I really wanted more creepy haunted house stuff, and ghosts.


 * That Hill House

wasn't actually haunted, but that its unsettling architecture had a tendency to affect its occupants' emotional states. And also, that Eleanor was telekinetic and Theodora was telepathic, but neither one of them had conscious control over their abilities or knew that they were using them.

(spoiler show)

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-08-04 19:36
Formulaic, problematic
The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring - John Bellairs,Richard Egielski

And then there was The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring which focused almost entirely on Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmerman's adventures over the summer while Lewis was at Boy Scout Camp. (So why then is this often referred to as The Lewis Barnavelt Series?) Rose Rita is a full-fledged tomboy and is dissatisfied with being a girl. She wants a chance to prove herself and she gets the perfect opportunity when Mrs. Zimmerman becomes afflicted by dark magic and then mysteriously vanishes. [A/N: Richard Egielski is the illustrator of this volume and has a much different style.] If you haven't picked up on this by now it seems as if Bellairs sticks to the same narrative with only slight variations which is the main reason why this series got so stale by the second book. I don't have a lot of hope for the fourth but maybe with a different author at the helm (books up until 2008 and they began in the early 70s) there will be an uptick in excitement and narrative diversity. 3/10

 

Source: John Bellairs Wiki

 

Compare the illustrative styles from the first two books. While all are enjoyable they evoke quite different feelings.[Source: Tumblr]

 

 

What's Up Next: One Step at a Time by Sara Y. Aharon

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-07-25 17:54
For whom the clock ticks
The House With a Clock in Its Walls - Edward Gorey,John Bellairs

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs is the first in a series which (mainly) revolve around a boy named Lewis Barnavelt and his adventures living with his uncle who is a magician. I originally searched this book out because I saw the trailer for the upcoming film and got that familiar itch of "I must go to there". Then I found out that Edward Gorey was the illustrator and that clinched the deal. Bellairs blends mystery and magic to tell the story of a lonely little boy who is suddenly orphaned and thrust into the custody of a man he has never met before. Uncle Jonathan is unlike any person that Lewis has ever known and that's not only because he's a magician. Uncle Jonathan's house (a character in its own right) contains a mystery that all starts with the man who originally owned the property and who was himself a magician...a dark wizard in fact. With the combined forces of Uncle Jonathan and their neighbor (and witchy friend) Mrs. Zimmerman they begin a desperate search for the source of a mysterious ticking inside the walls of their house because they are certain it was magicked their by the original owner who no doubt created it with nefarious intentions. Our main character, Lewis, is at the same time struggling to fit in at his new school and while trying to impress his new friend he finds himself going against his uncle's wishes and trying a little magic of his own. Surely nothing could go wrong... This was a strong start to a series which began in 1973 and ran until 2008. [A/N: Books 4-6 were written after the death of John Bellairs from outlines and notes he left behind. The remainder were written entirely by Brad Strickland.] This book was a solid 8/10 but (as a heads up) I'll be reviewing 2 & 3 in the not too distant future and they didn't quite live up to this first book.

 

Check out the trailer which initially piqued my interest: The House with a Clock in its Walls.

 

 

 

One of the Edward Gorey illustrations from inside the book. [Source: Pinterest]

 

 

What's Up Next: The Outsider by Stephen King

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-06-03 05:13
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller

Dr. Montague is an occult scholar who believes that he has found in Hill House the perfect place to document and study paranormal activity. He plans to stay there for several months with a few other people, keeping detailed notes about his findings and experiences. He is asked to have Luke, the heir to Hill House, accompany him, and he selects two others, Theodora and Eleanor, as his assistants. Theodora is a vibrant artist who may or may not be psychic - in laboratory tests she was able to identify fifteen or more cards out of twenty without being able to see them. As a child, Eleanor experienced a three-day incident in which stones showered upon her home's roof for no apparent reason.

I read this because I wanted a good "haunted house" story. It started off strong, if a bit slow. I liked the image of Eleanor as some who had broken free, however briefly, from the cage of her home and family. She'd spent a good deal of her life caring for her ailing mother, and after her mother's death she was forced to live under her sister's thumb. Just starting her journey to Hill House was a tremendous ordeal for her.

Eleanor and Theodora's arrivals at Hill House were great, and underscored one thing that came up repeatedly in the book,

the importance of characters' perceptions of their surroundings. When Eleanor arrived at Hill House, it was an inherently monstrous and evil place, and Dudley's antagonism and Mrs. Dudley's creepiness only enhanced that interpretation. When Theodora arrived, however, Hill House immediately became more tolerable, and Mrs. Dudley's recitation might as well have been a recording for all the notice Theodora and Eleanor took of it.

(spoiler show)


While the characters, Hill House's history, and the tour of Hill House were interesting enough, I started to get impatient as the pages went by and still nothing had happened as far as the haunting aspect went. I enjoyed the supernatural activities once they finally started up, but I wish it hadn't taken quite so long,

approximately half the book.

(spoiler show)


It's been several weeks and I'm still not sure how I feel about how things turned out. It wasn't entirely a surprise, but I still ended up looking at the last few pages and thinking "Really? That's it?" I bet it'd be fun to debate what really happened during this group's stay at Hill House, though.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-01-06 02:19
The last story strengthened my resolve to never go on a cruise
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories by Dahl, Roald (2012) Paperback - Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories was a must-have for me for 2 reasons: 1. Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors and I want to read everything he's ever written and 2. I love ghost stories. I have to admit that going into this one I was very much under the impression that this was going to be a book filled with stories written by Dahl himself. I clearly hadn't read the synopsis or book jacket because that is not what this book is about. This is a collection of some of Dahl's favorite ghost stories written by other people. He compiled this list when he was working on a project for American television and his preparation was extensive. He read 749 tales of the supernatural by different authors and from that large number he whittled it down to 14 of his favorites that he felt were not only excellent examples of writing in this genre but that would make for good television. (He also discovered that women are experts in this field and until the 11th hour he thought they would beat out the men with a hard majority.) Since there are 14 different stories in this collection, I will only talk about 2 that I found particularly chilling (and yes they are written by women). 

 

The first is called 'Harry' and was written by Rosemary Timperley. It bore a striking resemblance to The Imaginary in that its primary focus was on a little girl who had a strong friendship with an imaginary boy. The biggest difference here is that the mom tried very hard to squash this relationship because she had a deep and abiding fear...of the name Harry. Yes, I too found this odd. Nevertheless, while it may seem irrational this fear was quite powerful and instead of ignoring the interactions of her child and her invisible playmate she let it consume her until...well you'll have to read the story.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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