The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – Review

Cover- The Haunting of Hill House

Published: October 3, 2013 (orig. Oct 16, 1959)

Publisher: Penguin Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 235 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.0/5.0


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, the 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.

UGH. I was really looking forward to reading this during the Halloween season – classic ghosty, spooky tale, you know – and I was just so disappointed! It was promising at first, introducing us to the situation, the characters, and even the house but I quickly realized that it was going to be mediocre at best. 

The characters were fine if a little dull. We have Eleanor, Theodora, Luke, and Dr. Montague who are all at Hill House to record any supernatural phenomena they encounter for Dr. Montague’s research. Eleanor is the most interesting of the lot simply because we get to learn the most about her past and motives for accepting the invite to Hill House. The others are flat, one dimensional characters with Theodora being the most interesting of them. She and Eleanor both are kind of dramatic.

I went into this thinking the synopsis sounded ominous, but I was left so underwhelmed. Perhaps the shorter length of the book left me wanting for substance or maybe it really was just as boring as I thought it was.  It took me THREE DAYS to read this even though it’s only just over 200 pages because it wasn’t enjoyable or even scary! The characters spend most of their time at Hill House dilly-dallying and talking about how they weren’t properly afraid of the haunty bits after they had occurred. The scariest part of the book was Mrs. Dudley the housekeeper.

I should’ve just watched the show, which is apparently much scarier and much different than the book.

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