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Books

4 reasons to read The Haunting of Hill House this Halloween

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I love ghost stories. I love the idea of hiding under the blanket, in the dark, speaking about spooky ghosts and monsters. We often talk about fear as a negative emotion, but – with the right conditions, fear can become a wonderful feeling.

I have just discovered Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, and here are 4 reasons why you should read it this month:

1/ The TV series based on the book is streaming on Netflix right now

I first heard of The Haunting of Hill House because the TV series was released last Friday, October 12th on Netflix. I have spent my entire week-end binge watching it. The series is quite different from the book: the characters, plot and timeline differ. However, both take place in this fantastic and creepy old house that is majestic, and terrifying.

2/ Getting in the mood for Halloween

The Haunting of Hill House, considered one of the best ghost story ever written, represent what horror does best. In the show, ghosts are hiding in plain sight in almost every scene (if you’re done watching it, check this great article compiling each appearances). The book is similar; within every chapter lies an ambiguous, terrifying thought or feeling highlighted by the main character Eleanor. It is not surprising to learn that this story has been used as the perfect example for house haunting tales, and copied periodically ever since.

3/ This book is Shirley Jackson’s masterpiece

Female authors are quite present in the horror genre. The first ever horror story was written by a woman, Mary Shelley (Frankenstein). The Haunting of Hill House was published in 1959, as a perfect representation of gender rules from this period. The book has two strong female characters (one of them is queer!), and is highly ironic about the oppression and systemic injustice imposed on women. If you are interested in other books written by women, read my article here.

4/ The writing is mesmerizing and truly fantastic

Here’s the opening of the book, which is also my favorite quote:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

Shirley Jackson is a wonderful author with a particular style. Her sentences are long, often full of bitter irony; ghosts hide within the lines. There’s a feeling of unspeakable terror that you get while reading the book.

Do you like scary stories? What is your favorite horror book or movie or TV show? 

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