The Haunting of Hill House

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The Haunting of Hill House

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have seen both versions of this story in movie form and actually prefer the 1960’s version for its lack of overt special effects. Saying that this is the first time I have ever read the book, though I have wanted to for years. This is a character study more than a haunted house story, but the house does play a central role. There is not an emphasis on scares but a setting of mood and atmosphere that really draws you in, very much like the original movie. The characters are not flat but come to life as well-rounded and with personalities that make them very approachable.

Hill House has stood for 80 years and is considered to be haunted or at least tainted in some way. A researcher decides to try to prove that the supernatural exists by bringing in a team to stay at the house and document their experiences. The question that needs to be answered is whether there is a haunting or is it only the imagination and psychosis of those in the house that brings it to life. Eleanor and her companions find that Hill House has its own agenda and they are a part of it.

All of the characters are very different from their cinematic counterparts in subtle ways and some very big ways. Eleanor is even more of a neurotic in the book, Theo is actually a bit nicer than depicted, and Luke is not a lush. The other characters, one not even depicted in the movie are vastly different and not necessarily for the better. If you enjoyed either movie, you should read this to get a better understanding of what happened and how things progressed. And you can see that Shirley Jackson was very good for her time.

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