Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Publisher: Phoenix Books, Inc.
Pub. Date: April 17th, 2007
Length: 6 hours

Genres: Horror / Fiction / Suspense


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.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I've enjoyed the movie version of The Haunting of Hill House since it came out years ago, but somehow never got around to reading (or listening, in this case) to the actual story as written by the author. In the movie we see a mix of the paranormal and the psychological, wondering how much of what was occurring was a result of ghosts and evil spirits or more within the twisted minds of the characters. I found this audiobook to be very similar, at least where it comes to that key mystery, and to have much about it to enjoy, even as the ending left much to be desired.

The characters are very similar: shy, lonely Eleanor; vivacious and outgoing Theodora; charming and appeasing Luke; and the doctor at the center of it all, studying the others and pulling the strings somewhat. The house itself is even a character, being strangely constructed with off-kilter doors, strange hallways and rooms, and oddities that would leave anyone feeling slightly uncomfortable or slightly insane within it. It's an overall fun house even as it can also feel quite terrifying.

The narrator was great, having that classic posh English accent that you would expect and want from this sort of story. While each of the voices didn't necessarily sound distinct of and to themselves they were still varied enough that it wasn't difficult to figure out who was talking to whom and he definitely made up for any lack of distinction with his great skills at keeping the narration foreboding and sinister feeling.

I have to admit I'm either disappointed with the ending or somewhat confused on what actually  happened. I don't want to say too much in case anyone else hasn't read/listened to the story and wants to, but I was left feeling like not that much actually happened by the end of the story. Sort of a "this happened and now we are all moving on" situation. I might have completely missed something while listening to the audiobook...that happens sometimes when you listen while driving...but otherwise it ended up being something of a letdown.

The Haunting of Hill House is a good, classically sinister story that gets under your skin even as not that much really happens. It's more about what isn't happening and the bumps in the night that we cannot see. While this doesn't make me a lifetime fan of Shirley Jackson's I'm definitely interested to see what her other stories might have to offer.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I'm not a big fan of this particular cover as it's just the movie tie-in photo and doesn't really represent, for me, the story as a whole. I've seen other covers that show a creepy old house, which is great, but even those don't seem to have much depth to them.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

I borrowed a copy of The Haunting of Hill House from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are mine alone. If you'd like to find out more about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.

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