Published by Blackstone Audio, Penguin on 1959
Source: Owned Audible Book, Read in 2014
Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and light-hearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own...
I love audio books. In the author’s notes on the audio version of Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, he talks about how the first stories we learn are read to us. I listen to audio books when I’m in the car, shopping, and playing Candy Crush.
In typical book blogger fashion, I already have a tbr shelf just for audio books. Reviewing them is a bit more difficult, because I don’t take notes and I don’t always know how to spell the characters names. So these reviews will be a little different from my book reviews.
This book has been on my tbr shelf for years. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally read it, but when I caved and downloaded the audiobook, it made sense to give it a listen in October of 2014.
The opening paragraph immediately appealed to me, setting a nicely ominous tone. Hill House is classic haunted house story, and I was pleased that the sense of unease the book is still able to instill is me as a modern day reader. As a fan of horror, I’ve grown accustomed to gore and a high body count (thank you Saw and Hostel), but there’s none of that here. The insanity of the house is the shadowy stalker, preying upon it’s victims weaknesses, until they’re just as mad as the house.
The main character of the four protagonists is Eleanor. She’s both enchanting (her imagination was truly wonderful to read about) and irritating. She can be very childish, but I was cheering her on in the beginning of the book as she grew enough of a backbone to leave for Hill House despite her controlling and cruel sister and brother-in-law’s wishes. If I’d been Jackson, I would have had them come looking for Eleanor, and then I would have fed them to Hill House. That would have made the book even better.
The book was slower paced in places than I was expecting, and obviously it’s a bit dated since it was published in 1959 (honestly, I am so grateful to have grown up as a woman in our current times, it pains me to think of how limited our choices were just a few generations ago), but I’m so glad I finally listened to this! I’ve seen movie versions, and enjoyed Stephen King’s Rose Red, and countless other shows that have their roots in Shirley Jackson’s seminal tale.
Bernadette Dunne narrates, and she did a wonderful job. I have listened to her at least once before- when I listened to the audiobook of Strayed (I didn’t particularly like the book itself, but she is a great narrator). I look forward to reading more of her work!