Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson ★★★

The Haunting of Hill HouseI have wanted to read this book for quite a while. I love scary stories, and have ever since I was a little girl reading "Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark" and then graduating to Stephen King at around 10. But, oddly enough, I don't watch that many scary movies. Some, yes, but I prefer reading my horror to watching. Thus, I've never seen either of the movie editions of this story.

So this was a new experience for me, and honestly, I don't think that the movie versions would have done it justice anyway. They never really do.

This story centers around a house, and a small group of people, led by a scholar interested in paranormal activity. Once there, they find that the house is more than they bargained for.

The story is both more and less than I bargained for. I didn't really find it scary, but I did enjoy the tone and the feel of it quite a lot. There are some definitely creepy moments. I also am a little bit torn on what was revealed - this is one of those stories where the unknown is what frightens us - but there were certain things that were revealed and shown, and I would have liked a little bit more detail about those things. Like the picnic scene when Nell and Theo come out of their stroll in the woods... I would have liked a little bit more information about why that was there, and what led to it.

I liked the characters, mostly. Eleanor, especially, threw me off... I never really knew what to expect from her, and thought that things would happen quite differently than they did in the story with her. I had wild theories that I thought were quite clever, but were ultimately wrong, as usual. But then this is the mark of a good story, if it is unpredictable.

One thing that I didn't like about the characters was that they all seemed so similar in the beginning. Without having met each other before, they all make the same types of jokes about their situation, they all introduce themselves with whimsical fancy, they all seem to just have the exact same personality. It isn't until later that they start to become individuals... and at that point, one starts to wonder if it is them, or something else affecting them.

Also, I found it a little odd that as an "expert" on paranormal activity, or as a scientist, or whatever Dr. Montague is, that he would not bring equipment with him to record any sort of information or disturbances or measurements. In fact, at one point, he makes a note to pick up a thermometer, measuring tape and chalk, which he then does and uses once. What kind of scientist would base his arguments on the handwritten accounts of 3 unprofessional and unknown strangers and nothing else? That just seemed odd to me.

Overall though, I did like the story, mainly the feel of it. It was dark and eerie, but also not fantastic or unreal. Not a bad way to spend a cozy October evening!

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