The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – Review


Author: Shirley Jackson 

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication date: 1959 (my edition, November 28, 2006)

Pages: 208

Price: $18.00CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online



First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.  – Goodreads

First Sentence

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”


Insanely captivating. After reading the first page in The Haunting of Hill House, I was utterly hooked! I actually watched the Netflix Original series before knowing this book even existed and I know, I usually like to read the book before viewing the tv show or movie but I’m sorta glad I didn’t for this one! The book and TV show both had so many differences from each other but where equally compelling!

I find that in this novel, the characters’ traits are very well developed. I can strongly relate to Eleanor’s character, being the reluctant sister or the odd one out with none but her and her books, using Hill House as a refuge from her sister and her family. Although my favourite character was definitely Theodora with all of her nonchalance and elegance with her big life in the city. She has a very bright personality and I loved reading about what she said and how she perceived things.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was all of the sarcasm?! It was hilarious! they were all at Hill House -a haunted house, mind you!-  and they were just laughing around and saying so much dumb and arrogant stuff! It made the story so much less scary than I anticipated and lightened the mood. lol.

“It’s not us doing the waiting,” Eleanor said. “It’s the house. I think it’s biding its time.”
“Waiting until we feel secure, maybe, and then it will pounce.”
“I wonder how long it can wait.” Eleanor shivered and started up the great staircase. “I am almost tempted to write a letter to my sister. You know- ‘Having a perfectly splendid time here in jolly old Hill House….’ “
” ‘ You really must plan to bring the whole family next summer, ‘ ” Theodora went on. ” ‘ We sleep under blankets every night….’ “
” ‘ The air is so bracing, particularly in the upstairs hall….’ “
” ‘You go around all the time just glad to be alive….’ “
” ‘There’s something going on every minute….’ “
” ‘Civilization seems so far away….’ “
Eleanor laughed. She was ahead of Theodora, at the top of the stairs . The dark hallway was a little lightened this afternoon, because they had left the nursery door open and the sunlight came through the windows by the tower and touched the doctor’s measuring tape and chalk on the floor. The light reflected from the stained-glass window on the stair landing and made shattered fragments of blue and orange and green on the dark wood of the hall.  “I’m going to sleep, ” she said. I’ve never been so lazy in my life.”

I don’t know if it was simply all that sarcasm, but I usually don’t read horror, in fact, I don’t think I have ever read horror other than The Haunting of Hill House and it was not as scary as I thought it would be! It was spooky, no doubt, but there were no actual “holy crap!” moments like I’d get from horror movies. This book was really interesting and a captivating plot with a sharp turn at the end so what’ya know? Maybe I’ll start reading more horror!

Final Thoughts/Recommendation


I give The Haunting of Hill House four stars because it was enjoyable and funny but where was all the haunting? I wasn’t that scared! I was a little disappointed but then I was like, “wait, why do I even want to be scared?” Ugh, that ending was also so  spontaneous I loved it so much, that was one of the only moments where I actually got the chills!

I’d recommend The Haunting of Hill House to anyone who wants suspense but doesn’t want to be that scared or even to someone who simply enjoys reading classics. Because although it was supposed to be spooky, I got that same heartwarming feeling that I get when I read any classics!

“Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House


Let me know what you thought of The Haunting of Hill House or my review!

Have an amazing day!

-Emma 😉


Cover photo source:                                                                                                                                                             =the+haunting+of+hill+house+book+png&oq=the+haunting+of+hill+house+   book+png&gs_l=img.3…19875.19875..20089…0.0..……1….1..gws-wiz-img.dEygsE8                        DCAA#imgrc=5JqKgeXGvG02sM: