23 July 2015

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson




Every horror-lover has heard of this book. A classic of the genre, praised by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Chilling, disturbing, blood-curdling.

Alright, I seriously think something is wrong with me. Because this book was neither chilling nor terrifying. And it was a real nightmare for someone suffering from ADD (attention deficit disorder). I admit that my ADD has reached unbelievable heights. Sometimes I read the same passages 2-3 times. Sometimes I read the words, but think of something else, and have to go back, over and over again. And this book was hard to follow. I wasn't always sure what was going on. It had good moments and was filled with psychological themes, offering an insight into a troubled mind, but I couldn't understand any of the characters' actions. They knew from the beginning that the house might be haunted, but each time something disturbing happened, their reactions were befuddling. Whenever they seemed to encounter a contact from the other side, they would giggle or laugh, or talk some nonsense. I didn't understand half of the dialogue.

It was obvious from the beginning that Eleanor had serious psychological problems. She went from liking Theodora (another visitor of the house) to hating her in a second. She was disturbed and the house was swallowing her, but most of the time we saw her walking outside and wondering what others were talking behind her back. The other three characters weren't interesting at all. Theodora and Luke and the doctor were boring. Maybe it was because we saw them through Eleanor's eyes, but they were not interesting at all. There was a governess, a very curt woman, who never smiled or said anything more than necessary. But then she got engaged into a more or less nice conversation with a new guest. That was out of character and spoiled the book's atmosphere. Thus, I didn't really understand what it was: a psychological thriller, a story about ghosts, or a tale of madness. I was expecting so much fright I avoided reading it at night (especially after being attacked by a huge cricket), but this book wasn't scary at all. It was full of psychological moments, but it wasn't the horror story I had been expecting. Maybe I really missed something. And maybe one day I'll give this book a second try. Time will tell.



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