Recently Reading: Poison and Night Terrors

shirley jackson and blackheath

Quite a while ago I heard about the book We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson via The Black Apple (cant seem to find the exact post tho) and it intrigued me. Later I discovered that the author had also written The Haunting of Hill House of which the two films The Haunting are based. When I discovered that the library had them I immediately moved them to the top of my reading list.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is about Merricat who lives with her invalid uncle, and elder sister who was acquitted of poisoning the rest of the family several years ago. The family live in seclusion, disliked by the village folk but when a cousin arrives breaking their solitude things begin to change. I really really enjoyed this and it wasn’t at all scary as I had thought (no haunted house story as I had thought)

The Blackheath Poisonings by Julian Symons was made into a TV mini series in 1992 that I vaguely remembered. When I saw that there was a book of it I immediately decided to read it. I really love victorian big house murder mysteries where there are complex family relationships and almost anyone can be a suspect. The book was written in the 1970’s and was probably one of the first of what I think of as the ‘new Victorian sensation novels’ containing all the plots which couldn’t ever have been talked about back then.

The Haunting of Hill House also by Shirley Jackson was an excellent book but slightly more scary. Its one of those books so excellently written that although nothing much actually happens (the 1999 film had a whale of a time with CGI) it really gets you nervous (similar to the 1963 film version). For some daft reason I was so sucked into the story that I actually read the whole last third of the book alone in the house at night. The story is about Eleanor, who unhappy at home, joins a research trip to a large house which has a reputation of being evil in order to study the psychic phenomena occurring there. With strange noises, patches of cold air and mysteriously closing doors it is one creepy experience – how i survived reading it alone at night I don’t know.

(all images from amazon)


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