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Book Review: “The Haunting of Hill House”

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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Genre: Horror

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, mental instability, paranormal activity.


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.


So, a quick funny story about how I came upon this book. I actually bought it for my roommate (who loves horror books) for Christmas, and never got around to giving it to her. I needed to read a mystery or thriller book for a Read-a-thon I’m doing for January, so I checked in with a few other people who are doing the same read-a-thon, and they affirmed this could count as a thriller. It’s a good thing I had it, because thrillers and horror aren’t usually my preferred genre of book!

I’ve heard so many good things about The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix, so I decided to read the book first, so this review doesn’t take the show into consideration (although I am planning on watching it soon!). The book starts off very slow. Painstakingly slow. But in a very… uncomfortable way. The beginning of the book was eerie in its slow character building. I would read it at night before bed sometimes, and I always felt so uncomfortable, and would look up, terrified that I would see a face in my window or something.

Yes, I am a chicken.

The story was absolutely terrifying. It wasn’t bloody, or gory, but the terrifying part was the question of if it was real or just the experiences of a very mentally ill woman. I found myself questioning my own authority and views, convinced that I must be wrong. It was absolutely unsettling, to say the least.

Although, the two female main characters, Theodora and Eleanor, say that they’re so alike, they must be cousins. Maybe it’s because I like girls, but my first instinct was, “Ya’ll should just date”. But this was written during a time that a romance between two women would have been extremely taboo, so maybe that’s just the English major in me finding the homoerotic undertones where there aren’t any.

The ending is absolutely wild. !!Trigger warning, as well as a spoiler alert for this next part.!!