“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson is a classic that I didn’t even know about until I read “Audrey’s Door” by Sarah Langan. It was one of the books that Langan said inspired her to write “Audrey’s Door” (along with “The Tenant” by Roland Topor and a few others I think). After reading and loving “Audrey’s Door” I decided to check out the books that inspired it. “The Haunting of Hill House” was the first that I got my hands on.
The premise of “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson is a group of strangers are invited to participate in a study at Hill House in an attempt to see if any paranormal activity will occur. There is Dr. Montague who does the research and invites several people who have been involved with suspected paranormal activities in the past to participate in his study. Eleanor and Theo both respond and as a condition for using the house, Dr. Montague is required to have Luke stay there as well, a member of the family that currently owns the home.
As soon as the group arrives, everyone is immediately uncomfortable with Hill House. It doesn’t help that in the letters inviting them to Hill House Dr. Montague explicitly states to not stop in the town and not mention that they are heading for Hill House. Eleanor does stop in the town but refrains from mentioning her destination. She finds the town to have a very odd air to it and does not stay long. Once she arrives at Hill House, she is not exactly welcomed with open arms by Mr. Dudley and then she is led to her room by Mrs. Dudley. Neither of whom have much of a personality, and Mrs. Dudley takes things a step further by letting each guest know individually that she leaves before it gets dark. There will be no one to hear you, in the dark, in the night.
Things very quickly become stranger for the guests at Hill House. The group experiences a variety of spooky events including doors closing by themselves and a distinct banging in the night. Very quickly things start to get even weirder and also personal for one of the guests. The book is short, something like two hundred pages and I got through it very quickly. It was quite an entertaining read.
“The Haunting of Hill House” was not only a great book, but has been adapted into a few movies including the 1999 movie ‘The Haunting’ starring Liam Nieson and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It wasn’t until I read this book that I was able to realize how similar it was to the book. There were some changes made of course, but for the most part the movie was true to the book.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think that it is one of those books that anyone who is a fan of horror/thrillers should read because it has been the inspiration for many of the now-classics. It was a short read too, so it would be great for even those who do not like to read all that much.