Reviewing a Classic: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This isn’t a real review. It’s basically me just explaining why I don’t really review Classics.

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The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson

Format: Audiobook; read by Bernadette Dunne

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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.


I started this way back in October when I was trying to read scary books for Halloween.  I stopped reading around 30% and returned it to the library. I just couldn’t really take it seriously.  I think that’s one of my main problems with older books. Did they really talk like this?  But a few days ago I was thinking about the classics challenge I’m participating in and figured I might as well give it another shot because I’m going to have to read a bunch of old books.  But I decided to listen to the Audiobook instead.  And I really enjoyed listening to it.  Bernadette Dunne read it and I think she did a great job.  Her narration added the perfect creep factor that I wasn’t getting from just reading. 75% of enjoying an audiobook to me is the narrator.  And usually I prefer male narrators to female.  I think it has to do with listening to so many YA audiobooks, such as the Hunger Games and Legend where the narrators were so boring.  An English accent always helps as well.
For the story, I’m not really going to review it.  The book is pretty old, and it’s a classic “horror” story.  I’m sure this book has been analyzed thousands of times and I’m not about to add my nonsensical thoughts to that.  Although I wouldn’t mind actually reading some literary commentary on it.   Sometimes I miss college.  I would gladly go back if I didn’t have to write any papers or take any tests.

I enjoyed the actual plot as well.  It reminded me a lot of The Turn of The Screw, by Henry James, which I had to read for a Lit class in college. You’re never quite sure if anything at all is really happening or if it is all in the characters head.  It’s more than “horror” because it is so intensely psychological. I wasn’t exactly scared while listening, but I was definitely intrigued and I may have shivered involuntarily on more than one occasion.

I don’t usually rate classics literature (Again, who cares what I have to say when it is clearly a classic for a reason), but I’d give it a 3-3.5.  Let’s be nice and go up because I really enjoyed the narration .  I’ll probably actually try and read it again to see if there is anything I missed while I was cleaning my  bathroom.  Maybe next Halloween.

Has anyone read The Haunting of Hill House? 

What do you think? 

Was it all in their heads?

Or was Hill House really evil? 

One thought on “Reviewing a Classic: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

  1. Pingback: A Charmed Week |

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