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The Haunting of Hill House [Paperback]

Shirley Jackson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (261 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 12 1984
The four visitors at Hill House-- some there for knowledge, others for adventure-- are unaware that the old mansion will soon choose one of them to make its own.

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Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages.

Eleanor Vance has always been a loner--shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother. "She had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words." Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by "supernatural manifestations." He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague's bizarre study--along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House--a notorious estate in New England.

Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "without kindness, never meant to be lived in...."

Although Eleanor's initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural--she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone--neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures. Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Haunting of Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw. --Naomi Gesinger


Praise for Penguin Horror Classics:

“The new Penguin Horror editions, selected by Guillermo del Toro, feature some of the best art-direction (by Paul Buckley) I've seen in a cover in quite some time.” – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

"Each cover does a pretty spectacular job of evoking the mood of the title in bold, screenprint-style iconography." – Dan Solomon, Fast Company
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling and Disturbing June 3 2004
A powerful psychological thriller, "The Haunting of Hill House" affects the reader much as the fictional Hill House affects its intrepid explorers. Written with simple, lucid, and elegant prose, it is vaguely menacing and quietly disturbing, it is puzzling and disorienting, it is subtle and complex, and it works its dark magic by manipulating the fear, weakness, and despair we bring with us.
And the reviewer from Lubbock is spot on; My deepest sympathy to anyone who attempts chapter five, section four, alone, at night ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Frightening Story Ever! May 8 2004
Shirley Jackson is truly a master of the human mind. Her stories, including this one, are not just about these strange and horrible things that happen to people, but even more about their minds and the ways that they react to the people around them. In one sense you can see the end of this story coming for a while, but it's still a shock when you reach it.
I've already read every book Stephen King has written, so I was looking for a good horror novel. After reading some of the reviews here, I spent all day hunting for this book, moving from bookstore to bookstore, and when I eventually found this, I started reading, about mid-afternoon. I was caught up with it and couldn't put it down, not even to eat, until two o'clock the next morning. Now it may have just been because I was reading it in the middle of the night, but for me this book is more frightening than any story I've ever read before. There is a strange emotional tapestry among the ghosthunters in this building, but withing the growing unease, there are absolutely terrifying scenes that creep up on you and shock you. What happens to Eleanor over the course of the book makes you shiver. Now, I haven't read Matherson's 'Hell House', but I would say that this is the most frightening story ever.
Journeys end in lovers meeting...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Ghastly Environment Dec 30 2003
The author uses a droll and funny style to tell her story. She was an accomplished writer and observer of human nature and it shows. She had a sense of humor and understood, probably too well, darkness and melancholy.
Eleanor Vance, the heroine, is to go to Hill House, reportedly haunted. What the thirty-two year old woman lacked is a life of adventure. She had cared for her mother for eleven years. She is to be at Hill House with Dr. Montague, an investigator, and Luke Sanderson, the nephew of the owner. She meets Dudley, the caretaker, who is reluctant to open the gates. The house is a maniacal juxtaposition of line and place. Hill House is a house of despair.
Eleanor meets Theodora, another of the guests. They have connecting bathrooms. Mrs. Dudley, the caretaker's wife, says that she leaves before dark. She seems to take offense at criticism of the house. Hill House has a number of little odd rooms.
It is pointed out that no one knows why some houses are called haunted. This house is associated with suicide, madness, and lawsuits. The landlady is frank about the house's undesirability. Dr. Montague obtains a short lease to carry out his researches. Theodora has telepathic ability. Eleanor was involved with a poltergeist in the past.
The house was built eighty years previously. The owner was widowed three times. The two children of the owner spent their lives quarreling over Hill House. After dinner Luke and the doctor play chess. The two women sit by the fire and talk. The rooms are yellow, pink, blue, and green.
Eleanor sleeps well and awakes hungry for breakfast to be served at nine by Mrs. Dudley. The women, Theodora and Eleanor, have trouble finding their rooms. The ground floor is laid out in nearly concentric circles.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Haunting of Hill House Is As Good As It Gets Oct. 31 2003
"Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so 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."
Thus begins Shirley Jackson's classic story. The novella, written in the first half of the last century, has become one of the great literary works of the genre and has remained a favorite amongst fans of horror and the supernatural. But this book does more than tell the story of a haunted house. It is a character study of five people, placed in a situation that stresses their senses and psyche in ways that pushes their acceptance of reality to the limits.
It is the story of Eleanor Vance, an introvert who is resentful of the loss of the many years she spent caring for her sickly mother. Not long after her mother's death, living in servitude with her sister and her sister's husband, she receives an invitation to be a participant in a paranormal study at Hill House from Doctor John Montague, a man fascinated by the paranormal.
She arrives at the house sometime later, and is at first so completely overwhelmed by a sense of dread, feeling that the house is so overtly oppressive, she nearly flees. However, before she is able to run, she is introduced to the other guests who will participate in the study; Theodora, Dr. Montague's assistant, and Luke, the future heir to the house.
It isn't long after they take up residence within the house that each begins to experience different events of horror.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Special
I picked up this book after numerous people suggested it was a great terrifying read. What a complete farce! While Ms. Read more
Published on May 17 2010 by A Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull & Boring
This book isn't a horror book at all. Not only is it not scary, it isn't too interesting either. I would have stoped reading it but I was certain there would be something to... Read more
Published on March 4 2009 by Rob
4.0 out of 5 stars thinker
though the book does leave you a little dissapointed from the lack of frightening scenarios it does make you think. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Preston
1.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what all of the fuss is about...
I had heard for so long how intellectually scary this book was so I was really looking forward to reading it. Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by J. A. Northrop
4.0 out of 5 stars nice & creepy
It starts out slow, but it builds & builds, & by the time the house gets ahold of dear Eleanor, it's too late to go back! I was chilled upon finishing the novel. Read more
Published on April 12 2004 by lady detective
5.0 out of 5 stars It shouldn't be so scary BUT......
I found it necessary to read this book all in one night. I then found it necessary to sit up for an hour afterwards watching cheerful video, and then went to bed with my walkman... Read more
Published on April 3 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars THE greatest haunted house story of all time
The Haunting of Hill House is a beautifully written, subtle, and terrifying novel. In this story, a professor brings a group together to stay in, and observe, a haunted house. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2003 by Virginia Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars THE greatest haunted house story of all time
The Haunting of Hill House is a beautifully written, subtle, and terrifying novel. In this story, a professor brings a group together to stay in, and observe, a haunted house. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2003 by Virginia Girl
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is stupid.
One of the few case's when the book is a great deal worse than the movie. It lacks action and genuine scare tactics, and isn't worth the time it takes to read it.
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by Andrew P Janisch
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