Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Haunting of HIll House by Shirley Jackson

This novel is in our young adult collection for the teens who enjoy scary novels and were interested after the movie made of the book. However, beyond liking scary stories, I do not feel as if this novel has much teen appeal. Dr. Montague has a desire to investigate the mysterious Hill House and invites a few people to spend some time with him at that house. The only way he can stay is if someone connected to the house is a part of the group - enter Luke the heir to the house. Then there is Theodora and Eleanor. The four of them arrive at the house to hear about it's chilling past and to prepare for what might go bump in the night. As they adjust to life there and survive the threatening presence of the house, they begin to see that something sinister must be going on as one person in the traveling party keeps becoming the center of the haunting. This book was originally written in 1959 and so I think it might be possible that some dissatisfaction in the novel comes form the age and different time periods. The truly "scary" portions are few and far between. One thing this has going for it is that it's more odd and unsettling than outright scary. The way the characters act at certain times makes me feel like they've gone crazy and are talking gibberish but think what they're saying is witty and wise. As I read, though, I began to think that it might all be a reaction to the house, as if the house is affecting them. I don't know if this is the case or if their behaviors is all in the realm of sanity given the time period. I like my theory and if that's the case, the house as an overwhelming power that makes it truly creepy and strange. There is no explanation for why any of it is happening and as a reader that leaves me unhappy, but I guess it allows the story to live on to haunt again. I like how the book makes the house as much a character in the novel as Eleanor and the others. There is also some great juxtaposition between the dark evils of the house and the peaceful beauty of the surrounding area and brooks. If you want a book that's going to keep you up at night, I don't think this is the one you want. It is an odd novel, though, that does a good job of showing the downward spiral of one character affected by the strange, disturbing house. mmk

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