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The Haunting of Hill House Paperback – Jun 5 1984

4.1 out of 5 stars 271 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (June 5 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140071083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140071085
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 271 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #268,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a good ghost story, not excellent, but very good. If you are expecting an Amityville Horror/The Shining-type thriller, you won't find it here. This story is more about the psychological degeneration of the characters, particularly Eleanor Vance, than it is about ghosts. As Eleanor begins to become one w/the house, through internal monologue the reader can see this happen before the other characters. So its not ghostly phenomena that makes this story scary, its psychological obsession--the effect the house has on its occupants. However for all its psychological unnerving, the actual fear factor is very low. This book isn't pee-in-your-pants scary and there is much unfulfilled suspense. Jackson sets up suspense brilliantly but doesn't follow through on it. The reader is constantly waiting...waiting...waiting for something to happen and nothing really ever does happen. W/the exception of some poltergeist activity, nothing overtly scary ever happens in Hill House, leaving a ghost story lover asking, Where's the party? Read this book if you love psychological terror b/c it has excellent characterization, just don't read it expecting a fright fest.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No spoilers here, but you should know that this is a psychological ghost story, meaning that you are never really sure if the supernatural events are actually occurring due to the influence of malevolent spirits, or occurring as material projections of the protagonist's disturbed psyche, or simply in her own mind. Perhaps because of this, Jackson's descriptions of the ghostly occurrences are oddly oblique and offhand, almost token restatements of the clichés of older ghost stories, as if the main interest of the narrative lies elsewhere (i.e., with the protagonist's own mental journey). This is an enjoyable read, though the weirdness takes a long time to appear -- almost 100 pages in. Is it genuinely creepy? Yes, but only in parts. Much of the arch conversation between the people gathered at Hill House seems dated and artificial. And because the narrative is sometimes ambiguous, the reader often has some work to do deciphering what's actually taking place, especially in the rather choppy (faster paced) later parts of the book. A lack of specificity, which would have been standard in earlier ghostly tales (Le Fanu, M.R. James, etc.), tends to lessen the suspense, at least for me.
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Format: Paperback
Created by Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House” is about the experiences and relationships of four characters, with some past experience in the paranormal, that come to stay at the mysterious Hill House.

The first and most lasting impression this book made on me is its atmosphere. From that “first genuinely shining day of summer” to that final night of horror and bleak morning of forced separations, it was the ambience that made it such an amazing read. Hill House was “a place of despair… with a watchfulness… arrogant and hating”. Earlier I said this story is about four characters; actually it is about five. The fifth - and most intense one - is the house itself, with its bizarre structure, its eerie personality and the inexplicable ‘cold spot’ at its heart.

Set in this sinister world, the story is chiefly about protagonist Eleanor’s desire to create an identity for herself, her gradual descent to madness and her final identification with the House. While the conclusion to this story is certainly shocking, this book is not just about the ending; it is about a journey, and every moment of that journey.

There is a genre of horror that is based solely on gore; the desire to shock sensibilities being its only inspiration. This story is not that kind of horror. Rather, it is the kind that can put you in the midst of an open space on a bright, sunny day … and still tell you a tale that would make a horrifying darkness appear slowly and suffocate you eventually. Now that’s an art. And that’s why this book was such a good read.
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