Book review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson


The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. 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 am like a small creature swallowed whole by a monster, she thought, and the monster feels my tiny little movements inside.”⁠

Bury me with this book. This was such a wonderful reading experience. A new member of my top 10 books of all time.⁠

I was unsure what to expect going in to this one as there are many polarising opinions. You don’t need to look any further than the top 2 rated Goodreads reviews for this to see the conflicts of opinion, one is a 5 star and the other a 2 star.⁠

But for me, this has everything good horror should have. There is a wonderful amount of tension built up throughout the story, with small moments of false calm in between. There is an emotional story with our main character Eleanor who cannot escape the feelings of being unwanted, of not belonging. There are spooks, things certainly do go bump in the night at Hill House. And lastly, there is tragedy.⁠

Despite this being a slow burn, I felt on edge from the start. Before we even meet Hill House there are ominous moments that set the tone of what’s to come. And while some readers feel that nothing happened, I found this to be an exciting descent into possession and madness.⁠

I find reading Jackson’s writing like returning to the comfort of the arms of a friend. I find her style so easy and smooth to read. She really out does herself with the beauty of her writing in this novel, there are so many lines that you’ll want to pause over, just to fully appreciate it’s magnificence. ⁠

A beautiful thing Jackson does in all her work is never give you all of anything, don’t expect to find the answers you’re looking for in this story.⁠

This book is wonderful and I want to read it all over again already.

One last thing to add is about the Netflix adaptation. I didn’t particularly enjoy it before I had read this novel, but now I dislike it even more. They’re too different from one another, the show completely removes the whole essence of what Hill House is about.⁠

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Details:

Pages: 235
Edition Published:
2013, Penguin Books
Genre: Horror, Classic, Fiction
Goodreads Av. Rating: 3.84

5 Replies to “Book review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson”

  1. I was hoping you were going to mention the Netflix version. I know a bunch of people who loved the series, I think it was a series. Anyhow, it was a bit too frightening for me to watch but I think I may give reading it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

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