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The Haunting of Hill House [Paperback]

Shirley Jackson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 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

Most helpful customer reviews
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nice & creepy April 12 2004
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.
Don't expect skeletons popping out of closets, and ghosties running rampant from page one- if you do, it will only lead you into dissappointment.
Jackson's writing is literary & quite concerned with character development & it has an old-fashioned horror story appeal.
The ending makes this short novel, retrospectively, all the more thrilling.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Uh, um . . . May 4 2000
Yes, I'm fumbling for words. Maybe my mind is too shallow for this deeply and subtley horrifying book, but the only thing reacting on my body was my skin. It was crawling with impatience. Silly dialogue, boring descriptions and a slow-moving plot line made for a very dull read. Yawwwn. I'd rather read TV Guide.
I expected a lot more from the writer of The Lottery. Maybe too much. (November, 1998)
UPDATE: I re-read this book in December 1998 and it stands as one of my favourite novels of all time. At the time I was reading _Haunting_, I was already a fan of Jackson's and own all of her available works. I think that I was expecting to be scared in the modern style we are now accustomed to. However, upon re-reading, I realized I really wasn't appreciating this book for what it was - deftly subtle, quietly creeping upon you and terrifying the wits out of you. The evil lurks beneath the calm veneer that Jackson has crafted, like a hand coming up out of a grave while you tend its flowers on a sunny day.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Special May 17 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked up this book after numerous people suggested it was a great terrifying read. What a complete farce! While Ms. Jackson's writing skills and style are excellent, I found the storyline rather dull. I couldn't connect with any of the character's and the MC herself made me want to slap her.
As for this being horror? It most certainly didn't scare me; in fact I found myself skimming page after page, hoping to get to the exciting part that didn't come.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Let Down of Hill House's Haunting July 17 2000
Never in all my love affair with books have I admitted that a movie was better than the book. However, I was terribly disappointed with the Haunting of Hill House. Just when the story began to get interesting, it was all over. All the reviews I read say how Shirley Jackson is a master of her craft. However, I felt like the book was very tame and unimaginative compared to the movie. I realize that movie watchers and book lovers are usually worlds apart, but I was disappointed in the many avenues which could have been explored in this story and were left uninvestigated. Overall, I was left with the impression that I had read a book that was written for pre-teens or early adolescents. What a let down. I still can't believe that I actually prefer the movie version of this story. AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It shouldn't be so scary BUT...... April 3 2004
By A Customer
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 on.....I was a little creeped out.... What makes this slim novel a masterpiece is its surprizing effect. There is no gore, none of the trappings of current horror novels, and the language is straight foreward -- you have no sense of being manipulated. YET, sooner or later, it gets to you. Like her short story The Lottery, the very normalcy of the characters and your innate similarity to them draws you into the suspense. This is a must for anyone who appreciates the art of suspense over the bombastic horror of gore.
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Most recent customer reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ghastly Environment
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. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2003 by Mary E. Sibley
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Haunting of Hill House Is As Good As It Gets
"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. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2003 by Scott Kolecki
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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