If you've seen the movie "The Haunting" and have said to yourself that there is therefore no need to read the book The Haunting of Hill House, you've made a terrible mistake. What we have here is an undeniable horror masterpiece. I came away from reading this thinking, "Wow - I have to read some more Shirley Jackson." There are so few writers who can truly translate madness into words. My main man Poe is the greatest at this, but now I'm thinking that Shirley Jackson is right up there with the best. She lived a sadly brief life, never sought out public acclaim, and yet she has brought forth some incredible and important works of fiction. God knows they'll still be reading and talking about the brilliance and influence of "The Lottery" 500 years from now. Suzanne Collins ought to name her daughter after her.
The story of The Haunting of Hill House involves a party of four guests, previously unknown to one another, arriving at a supposedly haunted house and proceeding to investigate it for scientific purposes. Needless to say, mayhem ensues. So many subsequent haunted house books and movies have borrowed/stolen from this novel. It's impossible to name to them all, but three of my favorites are Poltergeist (They're heeeere!), The Amityville Horror, and The Shining. What makes this book so special is how skillfully written it is- how clever Jackson is at evoking a sense of dread and creepiness as Eleanor becomes more and more immersed in the energies inhabiting Hill House. This is not a slash-and-shock horror novel, but one of chill and dread. Edgar Allen Poe would have loved it!