Review: The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I enjoyed the center portion of the book because of the suspense of waiting for something to happen, the overall book was disappointing. I am sure this is partially to do with the era in which it is written – similarly horror movies from the early years were scary then but are redundant now – and partially because the movie “The Haunting” gave me somewhat of an expectation for physical horror and suspense.

The overall reading experience was good. However, the beginning was a little drawn out for such a short book. I found myself in more enjoyment by page 40-ish. Many of the portions of the movie were completely different from this book. Changes include the reason they are there which is more forthcoming in the book. They are actually told that the house is haunted and that they’re there to study possible phenomenon. Versely, the movie has them invited under the pretense of a sleep study that goes wrong. Then other changes include the cast of characters, the reasons Nell is being called to from beyond, the back story of Hugh Crane and his family, and the daily activities while they are there. There are enough differences to say that if you saw the movie, you can’t say you have heard this story.

The end of the book was slightly anti-climactic. I really wanted more to happen. If nothing more, somehow I was expecting a story twist that explained more about why Nell was being called to by the house… like she belongs, or was already a spirit, or whatever. The actual ending was not horrible but in contrast, was less interesting. With what they did, I would have expected at least to see Nell become a ghost after she runs her car into a tree rather than be forced to leave – which is what the group is trying to force her to do. Instead, the book just ends after she runs into a tree… they don’t attempt to get a reaction from the onlookers or even from the house or Hugh Crane after the fact. I felt almost like I was missing pages…

For the movie references in this review – this is the movie-version of the story that I saw:

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