Title: The Haunting of Hill House
Author: Shirley Jackson
Read it if: You want a slow descent into madness
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”
I used to have a hard time answering the question “what’s your favorite book?” because it’s challenging to choose just one. I still feel that way – each book has its own nuances and surprises and differences so they’re hard to compare – but I can say with confidence that The Haunting of Hill House is one of them.
In The Haunting of Hill House, five strangers meet at Hill House, a supposedly haunted mansion nestled at the base of a hill, engulfed in forest. The house, a maze of corridors and inner rooms and secrets, slowly chips away at the sanity of its inhabitants until there’s nothing of their former self left, only a body that carries the madness of the house.
Jackson’s writing style is similar to that of Carter’s in that it’s poetic and other wordly, so that when you read it feels more like you’re dreaming. Scenes melt together in a way that conversations end and begin over top of each other, and the repetition of certain words and phrases, along with the odd angles of the house that can be felt even through reading lend to a certain dreamy state that sticks with you long after you close the book.
What I love most about The Haunting of Hill House is exactly that: it’s haunting. Hauntingly beautiful, but haunting in a way that’ll make you feel the prickle of unseen eyes on you when you go to bed that night.