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review 2018-11-15 03:59
Review: The Haunting of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Bernadette Dunne

This was creepy and scary without gore or jump scares.  It was almost more psychological because there was never a solid presence or any one thing to fear like in a slasher film/book.  It's like going into a dark basement alone at night.  Logically you know there is nothing there that can harm you, but you still get the wiggins.  It's the not knowing that freaks you out because your imagination can conjure much worse things than what's actually hiding in the shadows.

 

Clearly there was a presence haunting the house and it tormented Doctor Montague and his group of young assistants--to a bad end for poor Eleanor.  The house seemed to be an entity itself and it sucked Eleanor in--bewitched her.  

 

Very well written, interesting characters.  I have to assume that the author meant for readers to hate Mrs. Montague, because she was just a nightmare.  I wanted bad things to happen to her in the house.  With the other characters [Doctor Montague, Theodora, Luke, Eleanor] you could see both their endearing, and annoying qualities.  And overall enjoyable listen.  

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text 2018-11-15 01:13
Reading progress update: I've listened 367 out of 447 minutes.
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Bernadette Dunne

Oh my good gravy Mrs. Montague is a real c u next tuesday!  She's just awful.

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text 2018-10-25 17:03
Audible Halloween $6.95 Sale!
Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons
The Collector - John Fowles
Joplin's Ghost - Tananarive Due
Secondhand Spirits - Juliet Blackwell
Thornwood House - Anna Romer
The Lottery and Other Stories - Shirley Jackson
FantasticLand - Mike Bockoven
Hell House - Richard Matheson
They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon
Cold Moon Over Babylon - Michael McDowell

Oh boy, I took in a huge book haul. Just when I'm fed up on horror and mystery and ready for nothing but non-fantastical fiction for a while. But oh, well, these will keep until I'm ready for chills and thrills again. 

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text 2018-10-14 18:28
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 218 pages.
Hangsaman - Shirley Jackson,Katherine Howe,Khristine Hvam,Francine Prose

50 Women Novelists in a Row: Book 10!

 

a couple of notes: since I’m in that small band of wet blankets who think The Haunting of Hill House isn’t all that, The Sundial is my favorite Shirley Jackson novel so far. let’s see if this can challenge...though my every instinct screams that this will be very different than The Sundial. doesn’t mean I won’t like it better, though...

 

...and, this will be my triumphant tenth novel in my 50 Women Novelists Marathon! I confess that the only novel by a man that is tempting me before I do all 50 is Earth Storm, by Mons Kallentoft...but an intended marathon is an intended marathon, and instead of rationalizing that the Kallentoft book features one of my favorite woman crime-solvers - the great Marlin Fors - I’m not going to deviate from the plan. now, the plan has always allowed for inserting a Nonfiction book, by woman or man, in the proceedings as a quick break from Fiction, at any time - and that may be happening after Hangsaman, with something called Bluespeople.

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review 2018-10-11 07:07
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (audiobook) by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Acting Edition - Shirley Jackson

The Blackwood family used to be much bigger, but now there is only 18-year-old Mary Katherine (Merricat), her older sister Constance, their Uncle Julian, and Merricat's cat, Jonas. Merricat is the only Blackwood who ever leaves the house. She does all the grocery shopping and tries her best to act normal and unafraid, but inside she is a seething mass of rage and fear, quietly wishing all the townspeople dead as some of them taunt her. When she is not running errands, she spends all her time playing with Jonas and devising protections for her home that usually involve burying or hanging items around various places on Blackwood land. Meanwhile, Constance cheerfully and patiently cares for her and Uncle Julian, who is unable to walk and who spends his days writing about and obsessing over an event that occurred several years ago. The delicate balance of all their lives is disturbed by the arrival of Charles, Merricat and Constance's cousin and Julian's nephew.

This was a deeply distressing story.

I enjoyed the beginning. The Blackwood family's past was hinted at, and I came up with theories as to what had happened, who was involved, and how they were involved. The pacing didn't always work for me, and the book dragged more than a bit after Charles arrived, primarily because I thought I knew where Jackson was going with the story and I wanted her to finally get on with it.

As it turns out, I was exactly right about what happened to the Blackwood family - it's so easy to guess that I'm not even sure it counts as a spoiler. I was very wrong about where Jackson was planning on going with it all, however. When things finally came to a head, the results were unsettling and utterly horrific.

I don't suppose I liked the pacing after that much better, but it didn't seem to matter as much. I was compelled to find out just how far Jackson would go (thankfully not as far as I feared - I'm not sure I could have taken it). This is only the second work of hers that I've read or listened to, but it's enough to see that she's a master at writing increasingly unsettling heroines. I wouldn't call Merricat likeable, but overall she worked better for me than The Haunting of Hill House's Eleanor. I went from feeling annoyed and frustrated with Merricat and her childishness, to horror at her and Constance's relationship, to nearly crying for the both of them at the end.

By the end of the story, quite a few things are up to the reader's interpretation. Unfortunately, most of the big questions I had were never answered. Like the pacing, this didn't seem to matter as much to me as it should have. I was too raw from listening to Constance and Merricat try to cobble together a new "normal" for themselves to care that I hadn't gotten all the details about the Blackwood family's fate that I'd wanted, or more details about what was going on with Constance.

Bernadette Dunne's narration was great. I enjoyed her voices for all the main characters. The only things that irked me a bit were her voices for the town boys, which sounded cartoonish and contributed to a theory I had (and soon scrapped) that the taunting was all in Merricat's head.

 

Rating Note:

 

I wasn't sure how to rate this. I settled on 4 stars, even though it left me feeling terrible, because of how compelling it was.

 

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

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