I unfortunately feel very indifferent about this novel. This is a book that I really, really wanted to enjoy. I have heard amazing things about Shirley Jackson’s writing and had a certain level of expectation going into this and it just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.
The book follows a group of characters as they go to an allegedly haunted house, known as Hill House, and spend some time there to study the potential supernatural activity. The group is led by Dr. Montague, the reason the people are all there, he has a serious interest in the supernatural and wanted to study the people and the house; Eleanor, a thirty-some year old woman who has spent most of her life caring for her ill mother, she decided to join to finally go on an adventure and do something for herself; Theodora, an artistic free-spirited woman, who decided to attend out of curiosity; and Luke Sanderson, an eventual heir to the house, who was told by his aunt to go to ensure that nothing bad happened to the house. The small group deal with the strange occurrences within the house while also dealing with the changes within one another.
This book actually had two film adaptations both by the name of The Haunting, one in 1963 and one in 1999. I have only seen the 1999 film and based on that I had a certain level of expectation of what the novel was going to be about, but I will say the 1999 film is quite different from the novel. Upon doing research, it does seem like the 1963 film follows more closely to the book. This book is definitely much more psychological then it is supernatural, which is normally something that I really enjoy, but in this case it honestly took a really long time for anything to happen and for the novel to be as short as it is and to not having anything happen until about half way through the book, is a bit of a letdown. The novel kind of follows one of the character’s spiral into madness and much of the book is written from this character’s perspective, though the book is written in third person. We see things from the mind of this character at the beginning and then we slowly see the character start to lose it as the character starts to imagine different events and think odd thoughts and spy on the other characters. But like I said before it does take some time for any of that to happen.
The characters aren’t particularly likable either. I don’t know if it has to do with the main character’s dive into insanity that leads to them being portrayed poorly or if they’re just not very good characters, but either way, I didn’t really care for any of them. Too much of the story, in my opinion, is wasted on what is supposed to be witty banter amongst the group, but I didn’t find it much funny nor necessary to the story.
All-in-all, I just didn’t care for this story too much. Although I don’t really think the 1999 movie is all that good, I still liked the story line better within the movie then I did the book.