I finally found a chance to read the classic horror novel HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson (author of the amazing short story, “The Lottery” and other works).
The novel begins with Dr. Montague looking for the ideal venue to directly study paranormal phenomenon, finally deciding upon Hill House, a rambling mansion in New England. He invites two women to join him as assistants. Another man, a young aristocrat who is a member of the family that owns the house, also joins the party.
The isolated house, abandoned for twenty years and maintained by an eccentric housekeeper, is horrible at first glance with its hideous face and bizarre architecture. Soon after moving in, the four become aware of strange manifestations. Here’s the description from Amazon:
“The four visitors at Hill House–some there for knowledge, others for adventure–are unaware that the old mansion will soon choose one of them to make its own.”
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is one of the most respected horror novels of all time, but I have to say I was a little disappointed. The house is mysterious and interesting with its architecture and terrible history, and the manifestations are definitely scary. As psychological terror, it works on some levels. However, I was disappointed for a number of reasons. The tension builds nicely but then utterly diffuses for long periods. The characters never seem to take what they are going through seriously. Eleanor’s degeneration is interesting but too disjointed, which pushed me out of the story.
I liked it for what it offered, but I didn’t really connect with it. Maybe I’m jaded.