Title: The Haunting of Hill House
Author: Shirley Jackson
Publication Date: October 16, 1959
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads:
First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
My MOST favorite thing about October reading is the excuse to read spooky, creepy novels. Each year, I try to make time during this month for at least one Halloween-ish read that's been on my TBR list for a long time. This year, I'm reading rather slowly this month, so I knew I had to choose just one. The Haunting of Hill House got the distinction because it's a bit of a supernatural classic, and I've heard nothing but good reviews from my favorite reader friends. (Plus, I was under the (mistaken) impression that it was the inspiration for the 1959 Vincent Price movie, House on Haunted Hill. Not the case, but the movie is good anyway--do watch!)
Overall, this book fell into the "good not great" category for me. I'll admit up front that this could be an issue of spoilers. The edition that I read had an introduction by Stephen King at the beginning, and since I will read literally anything that that man writes, of course I jumped into it first. But wouldn't you know...it was full of spoilers. CHOCK FULL. Why in the world would you put an introduction on a novel that is full of giveaways about the ending? Ugh. As soon as I realized that I was getting too much info, I stopped reading the introduction, but the damage was done. Therefore, I went into the novel already knowing what would happen to the protagonist (Eleanor), and that made the conclusion lose its edge for me.
Despite the spoilers, I still felt a little underwhelmed by my Haunting of Hill House experience. The events were spooky, but not necessarily scary. I often had more fun figuring out the dynamics between the characters (especially Eleanor and Theodora) than I did watching Hill House's ghosts play their nocturnal games. I guess, after so many reviews telling me that this wasn't a book to read alone in the dark, I was expecting more thrills and chills.
I don't mean to pan the book so much though, honestly. It was still fun to read, and definitely great for October--grab your fleece blanket and a cup of tea, and this is perfect for a fall afternoon. Even if it's not particularly scary, it is a "literary" thriller, so it's interesting to see how the characters play off of each other, and how Eleanor in particular manages to change throughout the book.
The Haunting of Hill House was middle-of-the-road for me, but I still think it's worth a read...especially if you don't get the ending ruined for you beforehand, like I did!
Have you ever read the introduction of a book, only to find that it's got spoilers from the novel in it? This has happened to me before Hill House as well. What is up with that??